Maryland man pleads guilty to 2016 Franklin County triple homicide

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. -- A gang member has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to three murders that took place on June 25, 2016 in Franklin County, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Thursday.

"This is frankly the stuff you hear and read about in crime novels,” said David Freed, U.S Attorney for Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Christopher Johnson, a 31-year-old man from Maryland, was one of five Black Guerilla Family members who planned to rob one of the victims, Phillip Jackson, and murder another, Wendy Chaney. The gang members were a handful of individuals who were allegedly involved in drug distribution in the Chambersburg and Mercersburg areas of Franklin County and in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Charging documents said Johnson and the four others went to Jackson's farm located on Welsh Run Road in Montgomery Township and subdued Jackson, Chaney and a third victim, Brandon Cole.

It was alleged that the gang members shot the victims inside a barn in the head and back areas before setting them on fire. Chaney and Cole were found dead but Jackson was alive when located by State Police; he died at the hospital a day later.

“The person who was cooperating with police was killed along with two other innocent folks who just happened to be there with her," said Freed.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Thursday that the deadly shooting was drug-related and at the time, one of the victims was an informant, providing information to Maryland and federal law enforcement officials on drug trafficking activities about several individuals, who -- including Johnson -- were charged in a superseding indictment on December 20, 2018 with murder, drug trafficking and obstruction of justice.

Johnson pleaded guilty to the following charges: one count of criminal conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, three counts of use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death, one count of interstate travel to commit a murder for hire, one count of conspiracy to kill a witness to a federal offense to prevent communication to a federal law enforcement officer, three counts of killing a witness to a federal offense to prevent communication to a federal law enforcement officer and one count of felon possession of a firearm, per the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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