Bee reporters answer questions about area crime news, trends and other issues.
QUESTION: There was a murder at what was a Burger King on Sunrise Boulevard about 20 years ago. Were the murderers ever caught?
Submitted by: Charles, Rancho Cordova
ANSWER:Four people were arrested in the 1994 slaying of 56-year-old William Robert Johnstone, general manager of the Burger King restaurant at Sunrise Boulevard and Coloma Road, in the Gold River area.
According to stories in The Bee, Johnstone was closing the restaurant about 11:20 p.m. July 31, when a gang of robbers wearing ski masks and nylon stocking head coverings stormed the rear entrance and shot him twice before rifling through the cash register.
Investigators said Johnstone stumbled outside with a fatal wound to his femoral artery following the attack. He was transported to UC Davis Medical Center, where he died the following morning.
Authorities later arrested Saterial Marcell Thomas, Melvin Smith, Leo Doley and a 17-year-old juvenile, whose name was not released.
Doley, the alleged triggerman, hanged himself in March 1997 while in Sacramento County Jail awaiting trial in the case. He was 23 years old.
According to Sacramento Superior Court online records, Thomas pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole. Smith pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and robbery and was sentenced to 21 years to life in prison.
Thomas, now 37, is incarcerated at California State Prison, Solano, and Smith, 38, is at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.
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