Dismembered head found in freezer of youth justice activist

Sheldon Johnson was taken into police custody in New York
Sheldon Johnson was taken into police custody in New York - Theodore Parisienne/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A criminal justice activist and ex-convict has been arrested and charged with murder after a human head was discovered in his freezer.

Sheldon Johnson, 48, was arrested in the Bronx in New York on Thursday on suspicion of murder and illegal possession of a firearm after the death of Colin Small, 44.

Officers discovered Mr Small’s torso in a bin and his head and arms in a freezer, and have accused Mr Johnson of shooting the victim and dismembering his body.

Neighbours reported the sound of gunshots in Mr Small’s home, and a man pleading: “Please, don’t … I have a family.”

Mr Johnson, a former gangster who was released from prison almost a year ago, said last month that he had decided to change his life after being sentenced for a series of armed robberies in 1999.

“I really said: I have to change my life,” he told the Joe Rogan Experience podcast on Feb 1.

“When I got out, I made a decision that I was going to walk away and I didn’t care about what the consequences was.

“And I said to myself, I’ve been doing bad for so long, I’m going to try to do something good. If all else fails, I could always go back to doing something bad.”

Mr Johnson said he was working with young people at Queens Defenders, a criminal justice organisation in New York, and has been pictured with Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney.

As he was led away by police on Thursday, he shouted to reporters: “I’m innocent!”

A man was captured on CCTV on the night of the murder wearing a variety of disguises and carrying bags and a bin through the hallway
A man was captured on CCTV on the night of the murder wearing a variety of disguises and carrying bags and a bin through the hallway

The apartment manager in Mr Small’s building reported seeing a suspect at 2am on the night of the killing, wearing a variety of disguises and carrying bags and a bin through the hallway.

In one CCTV image, a man is shown wearing a blonde wig under a hooded jacket. The same man appears in different images wearing three different hats.

The building manager told the New York Post he had seen a man acting suspiciously after the shots were heard.

“We tried to see if he took out the bin,” he said. “He never took out the bin. I told them, ‘Look for a bin.’ And sure enough, [the body] was there.”

He added that he had seen the suspect driving away in Mr Small’s blue Audi, wearing the wig.

“[He was] dressing differently, changing his character,” he said. “That’s not normal, he is hiding something.”

Mr Johnson appeared in court on Thursday night and was remanded in custody without bail.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.