Netherlands seeking extradition of former Miss. deputy in connection to murder

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Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 6:14 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Netherlands is seeking the extradition of a former Mississippi sheriff’s deputy in connection to the murder of a German national living in the Netherlands in November 2019.

William Lyle Johnson, of Hattiesburg, was arrested by federal authorities Wednesday after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern Mississippi filed an extradition complaint Tuesday.

According to the complaint, Johnson is wanted in the Netherlands on several charges, including preparation of murder, incitement and/or accessory to murder, preparation of extortion resulting in death and hostage-taking.

Johnson is accused of being involved in the murder of Thomas Schwarz, whose body was found in a pool of blood in his Limburg home in the Netherlands on Nov. 26, 2019.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Parker denied bail for Johnson, who is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

The Forrest County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Johnson was employed by the department from May 2017 to April 2019 during the administration of former sheriff Billy McGee. A 2018 audit report from the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office listed Johnson as a sheriff’s deputy.

According to the complaint, Dutch authorities responded to Schwarz’s home in Bergen, Limburg on the afternoon of Nov. 26 after a colleague of Schwarz’s visited his home when he failed to show up to work. The colleague found Schwarz’s door open and the door handle stained with blood.

Authorities found Schwarz’s body on the dining room floor surrounded by blood. Schwarz’s hands and feet were tied with wire, according to court documents.

An autopsy revealed Schwarz had deep stab wounds to his right upper leg and right upper arm, broken ribs and serious injuries to his back. His throat had also been cut.

The colleague told authorities that Schwarz had been visited by two English-speaking individuals four to five weeks prior to the murder. The two individuals requested money from Schwarz. When he refused, the individuals told Schwarz that another “not so friendly” individual would come back for the money, according to the complaint.

Neighbors reported seeing a Volkswagen Polo with a German license plate near Schwarz’s home sometime before 7 a.m. on the morning of the murder. One neighbor said two men exited the vehicle while a third man stayed in the car. The witness then heard Schwarz’s door slam and different voices coming from the home.

The neighbor then reported hearing a loud bang and yelling from Schwarz’s home. When the neighbor rang Schwarz’s doorbell, no one answered. The neighbor looked through Schwarz’s window and reported seeing a person bent over holding a blanket and a woman.

The witness returned home and then saw the Volkswagen Polo pull up to the front of Schwarz’s home. A woman exited the home and entered the Volkswagen before it drove away.

Another neighbor reported seeing the Volkswagen on a nearby street shortly after. Around 7:35 a.m., the neighbor saw a man walking to the vehicle and calling to others in English to come to the car. The witness then saw the man drive the Volkswagen onto Schwarz’s street where two men entered the car.

Dutch authorities contacted German authorities, who revealed that the Volkswagen had been rented by Justin Steven Causey and Lukas Fecker in Frankfurt, Germany two days prior to the murder. Causey returned the vehicle on the afternoon of the murder, though the car was missing its floor mats.

Trace amounts of blood were collected from the car and matched to Schwarz, court records show.

Dutch authorities also tracked the locations of a cell phone used by Causey to call the rental car company and discovered that it was in the vicinity of Schwarz’s home on the morning of the murder.

Dutch authorities sought information on Causey from U.S. authorities, who revealed Causey was arrested in Colorado on drug and firearms possession charges in December 2020. The FBI informed Dutch authorities that Causey said he was doing protection work for Fecker, who is a resident of Switzerland and owner of a company called “Innovation Brain” that buys businesses on the verge of bankruptcy. Bank records showed Innovation Brain paid Causey $5,980 in December 2019.

Schwarz owned a company that was in financial trouble, and Dutch authorities believe Fecker and Schwarz had a business relationship and that Schwarz possibly owed Fecker money.

Additional telephone data collected by Dutch authorities revealed another phone number that traveled the same route as Causey’s phone and was in the area of the same hotel Causey stayed at during the time of the murder.

Dutch authorities traced the number to a person identified only as “Individual-2″ in the complaint.

Information obtained from German and U.S. authorities showed Johnson and Individual-2 boarded a flight in Newark, N.J. on Nov. 24, 2019, and arrived in Dusseldorf, Germany the day before the murder.

According to the complaint, booking records show that “lukasfecker4@checkinaddress” and the cell phone used by Causey were provided as contact information when booking the flights.

Camera footage from the hotel showed Causey and two other men, one resembling Johnson and the other resembling Individual-2, arrive at the hotel the night before the murder.

The next morning, camera footage shows three men consistent with their appearance leave the hotel. A minute later, a car resembling the VW Polo drove out of the hotel parking lot.

U.S. authorities provided Dutch authorities with information showing Johnson and Individual-2 made purchases at Newark International Airport and Dusseldorf International Airport prior to the murder and purchases at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Russia days after the murder.

Individual-2 also transferred money to Johnson’s bank account on three occasions between January 2019 and May 2020.

Johnson has a status conference scheduled for July 20 and an evidentiary hearing set for July 26 in Hattiesburg.

Fecker is currently in custody and awaiting trial in the Netherlands.

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