Ex-Marine pleads guilty to killing of former unit member's wife - in 1979

Roger Pollard (Photo courtesy of Onslow County Sheriff's Office)

JACKSONVILLE, Onslow County - A man charged in a cold case that went unsolved for nearly four decades pleaded guilty to second degree murder in Onslow County Superior Court on Thursday.

According to a press release from District Attorney Ernie Lee, the sentencing for 57-year-old Roger Pollard is being delayed until Aug. 25 to allow the family of the victim to travel to eastern North Carolina for the hearing.

Pollard pleaded guilty to beating to death 20-year-old Karen Johnson on April 19, 1979.

"This was a very difficult and challenging case to say the least that has taken many months of hard work by the District Attorney's Office, the Onslow County Sheriff's Office, The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory," Lee said in a press release. "The case is over 38 years old and obviously there have been challenges in investigating and prosecuting this case."

DNA testing conducted by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory in Georgia identified Pollard as the prime suspect in Johnson's death.

Onslow County Sheriff's Office officials said at a press conference last May following Pollard's arrest that they had suspected him all along, but didn't have the evidence needed to proceed with criminal charges.

Johnson had just married Gary Johnson, a Marine at Camp Lejeune, just months before her death. Pollard and Gary Johnson were in the same unit at Camp Lejeune in 1979 and Gary Johnson had been deployed at the time his wife was killed.

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