Missing woman found dead in cemetery days after allegedly abusive boyfriend bonds out of jail

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul10,2024

HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (TCN) — A 23-year-old man was taken into custody following a manhunt for allegedly killing his girlfriend and leaving her body in her car.

The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office shared a drone video that showed law enforcement officers locating, tackling, and arresting Bricen Rivers on July 3. The sheriff’s office called it a “very dangerous” apprehension because of several factors, including “extreme heat conditions, rugged terrain, and the unknown intent of the suspect.”

According to WLOX-TV, Lauren Johansen’s family reported her missing July 2 out of Hattiesburg, and law enforcement were able to track her vehicle to Wolf River Cemetery. When deputies arrived at the cemetery, they reportedly found Johansen deceased in her car and wrapped in a sheet. Officials saw Rivers flee into the woods, so they called in backup to assist in the search.

He was caught after about nine hours. Rivers is in custody at the Harrison County Jail on charges of murder, possession of a controlled substance, kidnapping, and trafficking in a controlled substance.

WLOX reports Rivers has a past of allegedly abusing 22-year-old Johansen. In December, he was arrested in Nashville for allegedly kidnapping, beating, and holding her against her will. Johansen’s father, Lance Johansen, attended Rivers’ bond hearing and told the judge, “If they let him out, he was going to kill her.”

Lance Johansen said Rivers had allegedly beaten his daughter multiple times.

He told WLOX, “We would get her away from him for a while, but he would find a way to weasel back in it.”

Rivers’ bond was reportedly reduced from $250,000 to $150,000 in July when he bonded out.

On July 1, the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office contacted Lance Johansen and said Rivers was released from custody. The district attorney’s office official said Rivers was “supposed to report straight to a GPS company and be put on a GPS monitor and he was not to leave Davidson County.” Rivers, however, “did not report to that GPS monitoring company, and he has not been heard from.”

On July 2, Lance Johansen got a call from his other daughter, who lived with Lauren Johansen, who said their front door was open, their security system was broken, and Lauren was nowhere to be found.

Lance Johansen received the call from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office that his daughter’s car was found in the cemetery, and he “knew she was dead.”

Lance Johansen told WLOX, “When we got there, her car was in the middle of the cemetery and she was in the back of the car wrapped up in sheets and trash bags. She was basically beaten to death. Her face was smashed in, her head was smashed in, she was brutally beaten to the point she couldn’t see out of either eye.”

He said his daughter’s body “was just mutilated.”

Lauren Johansen was a nursing student at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Lance Johansen said, “I think the criminal justice system in Nashville, Tennessee, failed my daughter and our family. The world shouldn’t work this way. She was really beautiful, super, super smart. She had dreams and hopes that were larger than life. Everything she did, everything she touched turned to gold.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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