Family of murdered mother upset about suspect’s release

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The man arrested in connection to the murder of a beloved Lee County school bus driver is a convicted killer… and a free man.

Eugene Johnson was arrested on Aug. 9, which was four months after Alberta Harris disappeared. Her family, local softball leagues and the school children who rode her bus were devastated by her death. Many people were hoping for justice after Johnson’s arrest.

Johnson was facing charges for second degree murder and the possession of a firearm, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. But he was released from jail on Sept. 20 after the state of Florida failed to file charges against him during a 40-day window, according to Hendry County court documents.

His release from jail has raised questions from the family of another Southwest Florida mother. Johnson was convicted of stabbing Cynthia Hewitt to death 30 years ago in Collier County. The conviction put Johnson behind bars for seven years.

Hewitt’s daughter Shannon Neal, who was just 11 years old when when her mother was killed, described Johnson as violent.

“Hateful, abusive, angry,” she said of Johnson. “She [Hewitt] was always trying to protect us, being that he was abusive.”

A second family member said Johnson’s release is like living another nightmare. Now Hewitt’s family say they fear her convicted killer will get away with another murderous crime.

“How could they possibly let him out? I don’t even understand,” one family member said. “They made a big mistake by releasing him, letting him go. [I’m] living this nightmare all over again from what happened 30 years ago. It’s just ridiculous. Like how many times does it have to repeat itself?”