Johnson's three other children had also mysteriously died between 1977 and 1982. Back in September 1977, Johnson (who was only 21 at the time) and her third husband, Earl Bowen, lived with Johnson's kids, Jennyann Wright and James Taylor, from her previous marriages. Shortly after a dispute in which Bowen walked out on Johnson, two-year-old James was brought to the hospital and pronounced dead. The doctors ruled the cause of death to be sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
In the wake of the tragedy, Bowen returned home and the couple reconciled, having two additional children, Earl Jr. and Tibitha. But in 1980, after Bowen took off again, three-month-old Tibitha was found dead--reportedly the result of SIDS once again. Although Bowen was suspicious, he returned home, where he remained until another fight separated the couple. This time, little Earl was stricken with an unknown seizure disorder and died. Jennyann told social workers that she was afraid of her mother, but the authorities sent her home anyway. A year later, she was dead too--asphyxiated from an undetermined cause.
In 1989, after she split from Bowen for good and married her fourth husband, Johnson was arrested. She quickly confessed that she had smothered Jennyann and James as they slept by sitting on them (she weighed more than 250 pounds), but denied responsibility for the other two deaths. She admitted that her motive was to reunite with Bowen. At her trial, which began in 1990, she recanted her confession, but the jury was able to watch it on videotape nevertheless. They convicted Johnson of first-degree murder. Johnson's case initiated a trend in the 1990s in which authorities looked more closely into the sudden deaths of young children. Many doctors have insisted that SIDS has been misdiagnosed in a multitude of cases.
On this day in 1962, actor Tom Cruise is born in Syracuse, New York.
Cruise’s numerous film credits also include The Color of Money (1986) with Paul Newman; Rain Man (1988) with Dustin Hoffman; A Few Good Men (1992) with Jack Nicholson; The Firm (1993) and Interview with the Vampire: the Vampire Chronicles (1994). He starred as superspy Ethan Hunt in 1996’s Mission: Impossible, and reprised his role in the hit 2000 and 2006 sequels. Cruise acted in three films with Nicole Kidman, to whom he was married from 1990 to 2001: Days of Thunder (1990), Far and Away (1992) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Other Cruise movies include Minority Report (2002) and War of the Worlds (2005), both of which were directed by Steven Spielberg.
In the spring of 2005, Cruise and actress Katie Holmes, who co-starred in the television drama Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003), embarked on a whirlwind, high-profile romance. That May, Cruise went on The Oprah Winfrey Show and generated headlines by jumping on the host’s couch and expressing his love for Holmes, who is 16 years, his junior. The following month, the two actors were engaged in Paris. Around the same time, Cruise sparked controversy for his impassioned advocacy of Scientology and his criticism of anti-depressant drugs and psychiatry. On November 18, 2006, following the birth of their daughter Suri in April of that same year, Cruise and Holmes were wed in Italy, an event that received huge media coverage. In May 2008, Cruise returned to The Oprah Winfrey Show for a retrospective of his 25 years in film, beginning with his breakout in Risky Business. This past week Katie Holmes filed for divorce with Scientology being the rumored reason for the split.