GREENWICH, Conn. — A longtime Greenwich crime reporter is seeking help after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Joe Johnson was a widely read police reporter in Greenwich from 1986 to 2001, whose byline in those days was J.A. Johnson Jr. He started as a reporter for Greenwich News, but in 1989 he was hired away to the competition, Greenwich Time, because he kept scooping their police reporter.
During the following 12 years, Johnson wrote about major crimes that attracted attention from New York metro and national media. He wrote a Pulitzer-nominated series of stories about the unsolved murder of 13-year-old Matthew Margolies of Greenwich, which named names and pressured the state attorney general's office to have the case reinvestigated. He also wrote hundreds of stories about the then-unsolved murder of Martha Moxley, which led to the convening of a special grand jury, followed by the arrest and conviction of Michael Skakel.
He also broke the story of Martin Frankel, who ran what was at the time the largest-ever Ponzi scheme from his two Greenwich mansions.
Johnson now lives in Georgia, and recently a tumor was discovered in his brain. His family has created a GoFundMe campaign to help with the medical bills and loss of income.
He said that during his time as a crime reporter, "I had always tried my best to use stories as means for finding help for struggling people to cope financially, from affording burials for their children, publicizing accounts to which folks could contribute in order to help families weather the financial difficulties thrust unexpectedly upon them by violent crime, the grievous loss of home and property and any required healthcare, from accidents and other medical emergencies."
"In recent years I've used Go Fund Me accounts as an incredible way to get people the help they need, most recently helping a family raise reward money as they continue hoping to help the police find their their brother' murderer," he wrote on the GoFundMe's page.
Johnson said he never expected that he would himself need financial assistance, but the discovery of the tumor has sidelined him from helping his wife support the family. He does not know yet if the tumor is malignant, but has undergone brain surgery and will have to go through rehabilitation to help regain the use of his body.
"As a journalist, I already was in a declining profession in which there were pay cuts and no more overtime pay. That, coupled with every one of my family needing surgery, procedure or other medical services at the very onset of the Great Recession of 2008, left us in an extremely untenable situation."
"Even after determining what type of tumor I have, the doctors still will need to decide what type of treatment I'll need and for how long, When answers to such questions are known we will have a better understanding of potential ongoing future costs for the treatment."
He said he will be working fewer than 40 hours a week, which will provide even more of a financial burden on his family.
"We love our home and I hope to still be there when my daughter graduates from high school in six short years."