Blunt Force Yoga: A True Crime Memoir

Stephen Downing

Lisa Jones, Verbal Construction, L.L.C. (107 p)ISBN-13978-09826544-4-6

Lisa Jones, a web developer and LEVA-certified forensic video technician in Denver, Colorado has written this true crime memoir about the March 2014 murder of her sister, Dana.  A murder classified by the LBPD and the L.A. County Coroner as “accidental.”

The memoir’s perfectly crafted log line reads: “A botched homicide investigation unfolds in Long Beach, California in a climate of lies and cover-ups. 

The memoir’s introduction leaves one with the feeling that Jones has made a last ditch effort following an exhaustive five year quest to obtain justice for her sister.  She writes: “It’s too late for justice for her, and for those of us who persist in calling attention to her case.  Nonetheless, her (Dana’s) story is worth telling and worth hearing for its mix of screamingly obvious and perplexing unusual circumstances. “

The read is riveting as Jones leads us though her own exhaustive investigation as well as the wrenching manipulations she and her family members experience at the hands of the lead LBPD detective, Todd Johnson, who she describes as “a glib, perspiring man who pointed to the suspects statements, many of them demonstrable lies, as ‘proof’ of his innocence,” and later to a LBPD bureaucracy whose hostility and defense mechanisms blindly and deliberately defend incompetency in favor of self preservation and image.

Within this compelling narrative Jones reports that one static IP address registered to the City of Long Beach has accessed the mountains of evidence and investigative analysis posted on her website more than 150 times over the course of a year, but the only city official to reach out to her was Councilwoman Suzie Price.

Jones reports that Price wrote her an emial in March 2019: “I am so sorry about your sister’s loss.  I can only imagine how you must feel with the incident being unresolved.  It must feel like there is no justice.  I am so sorry for that.” 

But, yet, with that single offer of compassion, Price, who chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee, did not offer to push for the case to be re-opened.

In May and June 2018 the Beachcomber published a two part series entitled “Accident or Unsolved Murder” that examined the case chronicled in Jones’ yet-to-be-written book. 

The article reported upon the manner in which the Citizen Police Complaint Commission (CPCC) ignored the incompetence of “a grossly negligent homicide investigator” along with an evaluation of Johnson’s slipshod investigation by a former chief of police who concluded:

“Hell yes I would re-open this investigation. Lots wrong as I read it. I would assemble an independent team to include a forensic investigator and independent lab. But, not within the culture that originally investigated it.”

Jones’ memoir makes an undeniable case for re-opening the investigation and, sadly, comes to the all too obvious conclusion about her experience with the justice system, the LBPD and the city hall bureaucracy. 

Jones wrote: “One of he hardest facts about Dana’s case is that it’s not unusual.  It’s an example of how the justice system works in Los Angeles County.  It’s an illustration of how Long Beach police kill complaints, bury misconduct, and avoid political consequences.”

To back up her claim Jones offered a quote from Brutal Justice: The Ordeal of an American City by Henry Cohen, an expose of misconduct in the Long Beach Police Department published in 1980:

“Government officials had one highly specific and tangible motive for supporting the local police; they wished to avoid liability in case of civil suits for damages.  Burying or somehow justifying disagreeable episodes that might be costly in money and prestige would have to be given priority over any sense of moral responsibility.  Consequently, at each level of government, the normal practice was collusion.  Informal complaints were ignored, thereby never giving them an effective existence.  Complaints were referred from office to office until they wearied.  Officials at all levels of government united to obstruct or repel formal complaints."

Jones then wrote: “Cohen’s analysis was apt 40 years ago, and it’s apt today.”

In addition to being a highly readable – and persuasive – true crime story Jones’ memoir takes a deep dive into how the chain of command was and is business as usual in Long Beach.  She writes, “The situation is beyond any good-faith resolution.  What’s left for me to do, then, other than tell the story?”

And it’s a story well told and well worth reading, especially if you live in Long Beach, California.


Reviewed by: Stephen Downing, a Long Beach resident and retired LAPD deputy chief of police.


Editor’s Note:

Accident or Unsolved Murder, Part One can be read here:

Accident or Unsolved Murder, Part Two can be read here:

Beachcomber articles reporting on Detective Todd Johnson and LBPD corruption can be read at the following links:


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