By Dameena Cox
(Webster Groves, MO – Nov. 12, 2010) LaVena Johnson was a 19 year old U.S. Army private from St. Louis. She was serving in Iraq when she was found dead in July 2005.
The Army ruled her death a suicide. They told her family that she suffered from depression and was upset about a break up with her boyfriend. They claim that LaVena took her own life with her M-16 rifle.
When her father, Dr. John Johnson, went to examine his daughter’s body, he found conflicting evidence that pointed to a different cause of death, rape and murder.
Webster University held the debut screening of the film, The Silent Scream. It was shown the day before Veteran’s Day in the Winifred Moore Auditorium. The audience was standing room only.
The film was created by director, Joan Brooker Marks of Midtown Films. Marks teaches film at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She also directed two award winning short documentaries, ‘We Got Us’, and ‘The Loud Ladies of South Fork’.
This documentary focuses on the struggle of a family to find justice for the death of their daughter, Lavena Johnson.
The film closely examines evidence and raises even more suspicion that suggests a military cover up. Evidence shows a bullet wound to the top of her head, which is impossible in a suicide. She also had what appeared to be a broken nose. Other evidence includes bloody and severe mouth damage as well as vaginal injuries coinciding with rape.
Prior to his daughter’s death, Dr. Johnson spent three years in the Army. He was honorably discharged. He also worked for the Army for 25 years as a civilian.
Johnson is now retired. He feels a great disservice from the government and the military.
“Out of all our [military] service, this is the best we’ve gotten and it’s insulting to me…”, says Johnson.
Johnson has been back and forth with the military since the tragic beginning. He now leads this media campaign with hopes of getting the attention of Congress. Johnson hopes Congress will take steps to end this vicious cycle and make the military honest.
“Nobody comes to me and insults my family and then expect for me to accept it. That’s not happening in America today, and it’s [not] going to happen with me.”, says Johnson.