Joan and Johnny

For nearly a year after my initial involvement in the Monfils case, in my quest to create awareness in Minneapolis, I successfully sold The Monfils Conspiracy books to friends, coworkers, and many others. But I was unable to find what I mostly hoped for–legal interest. Then, one afternoon during the summer of 2010, as I checked my mail in the row of mailboxes at the end of my driveway, this happened…

I was heading back toward the house when a vehicle pulled up on the street behind me. It was my neighbor, Ken. There was chatter coming from inside the cab. I waved but kept walking. That acknowledgment solicited a boisterous retort. “Hey Treppa!” I rolled my eyes in amusement. Ken’s new friend, Johnny Johnson, was with him. I’d met Johnny briefly once before. He reminded me of Colm Meaney, the actor from Star Trek, with his round face and small, squinty eyes. Both he and Ken baited me. I welcomed the challenge, turned around, and shot back a quip or two of my own as I approached the vehicle.

Many of my conversations up to that point had focused on one thing—selling books–and after some light banter, I redirected the conversation. As I talked, a contemplative look appeared on Johnny’s face. He listened before speaking in a serious tone. “You don’t know what I did for thirty years, do you?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “Please…tell me?”

He alluded to the oath he took as a police officer and how he honored that oath as he worked his way toward becoming a private investigator. “I pride myself on being one of the good guys,” he said. “I know bad ones exist because I’ve worked with several.”

I felt uneasy discussing legal matters with a supposed expert because of my lack of legal training. I soon backed away from the vehicle, tactfully excusing myself. But as I watched Ken and Johnny disappear into Ken’s house, a nagging feeling consumed my thoughts. I grabbed a book and raced across the street. I knocked on Ken’s door. Johnny answered.

“What can I do you for?” he asked.

“Please read this,” I said.

“How much?” he asked.

“No charge. Take it,” I replied.

He retrieved his wallet and gave me the indicated $20.

I didn’t argue. I took the money and thanked him. “Call me. My card’s inside,” I said as I hurried down the steps. Tears threatened. I was certain I had found a partner.

Word eventually got out that Johnny and I were on a mission to reinvestigate this case on our own. When asked why we were doing it, we replied, “Because we could. To us, it was the right thing…the only thing for us to do.”

Reporter, Ted Haller, and cameraman, Josh Grenier, from KMSP Fox 9 news in Minneapolis, taping Johnny for a feature segment in 2016.

View an 8-minute video of our story here.

Johnny and I took trips to Green Bay, Wisconsin to collect evidence, to talk with prior witnesses, to reinvestigate and find new evidence that could prove these men are innocent. Our persistence paid off when we found it! The problem then became, what to do with this information we’d been given. So we set out to find an attorney we could entrust it with. And we found one…

The rest is history in the making because…as you read this, an entire legal team is working to free five innocent men…

In 2016, we were interviewed for a documentary called, The Innocent Convicts, which is currently being directed by Osagie Okoruwa. The production team led by Mark Saxenmeyer is located in Minneapolis. The film will be completed in 2018 and will air on PBS stations across the country…

View an article I wrote about my advocacy for The Reporters Inc website here.

Stay tuned, this is only the beginning…

Joan and Johnny being interviewed by producer, Mark Saxenmeyer, with cameraman, Joe Pollock, during the taping of the The Innocent Convicts in 2016.