NYC ex-con turned activist held without bail after pleading not guilty to murder

NYC ex-con turned activist held without bail after pleading not guilty to murder

NEW YORK - Sheldon Johnson, the ex-con turned criminal justice reform activist, pleaded not guilty to murder Tuesday in the discovery of a human torso inside a Bronx building last month.

The judge ordered Johnson to be held without bail.

Johnson is accused of gunning down 44-year-old Collin Small in a Bronx apartment, chopping up his remains, and hiding them in multiple locations.

Sources told the New York Post that the victim may have had a beef with Johnson while both were doing time at Sing Sing prison in Westchester County.

<div>The family of Collin Small watches as Sheldon Johnson appears in court at the Bronx Supreme Court in New York on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate, is accused of the murder and dismemberment of Small last month.</div>
The family of Collin Small watches as Sheldon Johnson appears in court at the Bronx Supreme Court in New York on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate, is accused of the murder and dismemberment of Small last month.

Surveillance video from Small's apartment building allegedly showed Johnson going in and out and at one point allegedly wearing a blonde wig as a disguise.

He faces multiple counts of murder as well as robbery, burglary, weapon possession, evidence tampering and concealment of a human body.

Who is Sheldon Johnson?

Sheldon Johnson is a convicted drug dealer and gang member who served 25 years behind bars.

Last year, he started working with troubled youth at the Queens public defender's office as part of his criminal justice advocacy.

<div>Sheldon Johnson appears in a courtroom at the Bronx Supreme Court in New York on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate, is accused of the murder and dismemberment of Collin Small last month.</div>
Sheldon Johnson appears in a courtroom at the Bronx Supreme Court in New York on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate, is accused of the murder and dismemberment of Collin Small last month.

"I got into school, I got my GED. From there, I got involved in correspondence courses," Johnson said. "I started interacting with guys who were teaching Aggression Replacement Training (ART), and I started to begin to understand how these concepts worked. What's positive visualization is deep breathing, how to remove yourself, conflict resolution."

He appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast about how he had turned his life around after a life of crime.

<div>The family of Collin Small exits the Bronx Supreme Court after Sheldon Johnson’s appearance in New York on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate, is accused of the murder and dismemberment of Small last month.</div>
The family of Collin Small exits the Bronx Supreme Court after Sheldon Johnson’s appearance in New York on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate, is accused of the murder and dismemberment of Small last month.

What happened in the Bronx?

The NYPD responded to a wellness check at a building on Summit Avenue, near W. 162nd St. in Highbridge. There, officers found the torso at the location. Johnson is accused of shooting the 44-year-old Small in the head and then dismembering his body.

The superintendent of the victim’s apartment building said a neighbor heard gunshots.

'Something was suspicious’

"The tenant of the apartment came in, and he never came out," the superintendent said. "So I called police because something was suspicious."

<div>Sheldon Johnson appears in a courtroom at the Bronx Supreme Court in New York on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate, is accused of the murder and dismemberment of Collin Small last month.</div>
Sheldon Johnson appears in a courtroom at the Bronx Supreme Court in New York on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate, is accused of the murder and dismemberment of Collin Small last month.

The pictures the superintendent provided FOX 5 NY with show Johnson allegedly carrying bags in and out of the apartment building the day of the murder, and changing his clothes several times, as well as wearing disguises.

Along with murder, Johnson is also charged with concealment of a human corpse. He was arraigned Thursday and ordered to be held without bail.

FOX News contributed to this report.