Breathitt County man accused of killing his wife, allegedly claimed it was a suicide before confessing

Berry johnson.JPG
Posted at 11:22 AM, Jan 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-18 10:56:10-05

BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Breathitt County man is in custody after authorities say he shot and killed his wife.

Breathitt County Sheriff John Hollan told LEX 18 that 62-year-old Berry Johnson called early Saturday morning saying his wife, 38-year-old Tammy Thorpe, shot and killed herself. Authorities say it was obvious it wasn't a suicide when officers arrived, but they didn't have time to interview Johnson at the scene.

On Sunday, Johnson was taken into custody and confessed to shooting Thorpe in her sleep. He was arrested for murder, tampering with physical evidence, falsely reporting an incident, and wanton endangerment as a small child was in the room.

Thorpe's family said that while they are thankful for law enforcement's help, they wish an arrest had happened sooner.

Deputies said Johnson had a history of violence with past partners, but there was never enough evidence for an arrest.

"She would give you the shirt off of her back and to think that her life ended the way that it did... I have no words for it. To catch her in her sleep when she's defenseless. I mean, she couldn't protect herself. I mean, she couldn't fight back," said Thorpe's sister-in-law, Crystal Reed.

Johnson is currently being held at Kentucky River Regional Jail on a $1 million cash bond.

Thorpe's family is now trying to pay for her funeral. They have set up a GoFundMe and are accepting donations.