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Delavan man killed in Mexico

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ANN MARIE AMES
March 18, 2009

Mexican authorities continue to investigate the death of a Delavan man killed in his home in downtown Guadalajara, Mexico.


Joe W. Johnson, who spent almost two decades renovating a home in downtown Delavan, was killed in a home he was renovating in Guadalajara, police told a Mexican newspaper, The Guadalajara Reporter.


Johnson was beaten to death, the newspaper reported. On the morning of March 7, workers Johnson had hired to help with renovations found his body, a police spokesman told the Reporter.


Because the house in downtown Guadalajara was under construction, it was hard to say if entry had been forced, the Mexican newspaper reported. A safe inside the colonial home was not tampered with, according to police.


Darby Holladay, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, would not comment other than to say the consulate provided services to Johnson's family and would follow the criminal investigation closely.


Johnson, 69, owned the Allyn Mansion, 511 E. Walworth St., Delavan. Johnson and his partner, Ron Markwell, operated the historic home as a bed and breakfast from 1986 until 2007. They bought the property in 1984 and in 1992 won the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Great American Home Awards grand prize.


Markwell declined to comment about Johnson. He had promised Johnson he wouldn't comment for an obituary story, Markwell told The Janesville Gazette.


Johnson retired in 1995 as a professor at College of Lake County, a two-year college in Grayslake, Ill. He taught there for 26 years and was instrumental in developing the school's academic program, according to a statement from the college.


He taught French and led several trips to European countries, according to the statement.


Renovating the 1885 mansion in Delavan was intended to be a retirement project, Johnson told the Gazette in late 2007. But soon after they got to work, the men realized it would be much more than that.


Deciding to end the bed and breakfast business after so many years was bittersweet, Johnson told the Gazette.


"It's time to move on," Johnson said. "We've moved on from lots of things you move on from one thing to another thing, and you look forward to the excitement of the next thing."



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