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Man, 79, dead after taxi theft
Suspect has recent car theft convictions
Timmy Lansing Johnson Jr
Timmy Lansing Johnson Jr. - photo by Grant County Sheriffs Office

A 79-year-old Platteville man is dead after an apparent taxi theft in Platteville last night and police chase in the La Crosse area early this morning.

Timmy Lansing Johnson Jr., 25, Lancaster, is in custody after the police chase ended in a crash near Holmen this morning, according to the Grant County Sheriff's Office.

According to La Crosse police, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office issued a Missing and Endangered report for the man and his vehicle Thursday.

The vehicle was found by a La Crosse police officer today around 1:10 a.m. with a driver who did not match the description of the missing man. After the officer tried to stop the vehicle, the vehicle sped off through La Crosse on Wisconsin 35 into Onalaska and toward Holmen. The vehicle then was involved in a crash with another vehicle and rolled over, according to La Crosse police.

After the crash, authorities found an elderly man's body in the trunk and tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said the victim appeared to have injuries "consistent with the victim being assaulted" before the crash.

An autopsy is scheduled for the victim today, according to police. The identification of the victim is being withheld pending notification of family, according to the Grant County Sheriff's Office.

La Crosse police, the Grant County Sheriff's Office, Platteville police, the Wisconsin State Patrol, the state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, the La Crosse County District Attorney's office and the La Crosse County Medical Examiner's Office are nvestigating the incident as a homicide.

According to the La Crosse Tribune, Johnson was released from the Grant County Jail Thursday. Johnson was placed on five years probation, including 24 days in jail, in Grant County Circuit Court in May on charges of felony bail jumping, bribery of a public official, felony driving and operating a vehicle without consent, misdemeanor taking and driving a vehicle without consent, misdemeanor bail jumping, disorderly conduct, fraud on a taxicab operator as a repeater, and two counts of resisting or obstructing an officer.

Johnson still faces eight Lafayette County charges of felony bail jumping, as well as charges of taking and driving a vehicle without consent, and driving or operating a vehicle without consent for two alleged car theft cases in Darlington Aug. 29 and Feb. 24. Johnson is due for a status conference in Lafayette County Circuit Court in Darlington Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Updates will be posted when available at Read Southwest Wisconsin Newspapers next week for more on this story.