A month after a 19-year-old who evaded FBI investigation shot students in Parkland, Fla., a Palm Beach teenager who was on the FBI’s watch list stabbed a 13-year-old boy to death.
Corey Johnson, 17, a Muslim convert who confessed to an Islam-inspired triple stabbing in Palm Beach Gardens that left one dead, was being monitored by the FBI for over a year but was never detained for his suspicious activity, the Palm Beach Post reports.
Johnson was arrested on Monday after killing 13-year-old Jovanni Sierra at a sleepover. He also seriously injured Elaine Simon, 43, and her 13-year-old son Dane Bancroft.
In his confession, Johnson told police his faith inspired the deadly attack.
According to the Post, Johnson was being watched by law enforcement since middle school, and by the FBI specifically since 2017.
In January of last year, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office received information suggesting that Johnson was linked to ISIS. Sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents together interviewed the teenager at his high school in Palm Beach Gardens.
A detective with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department determined Johnson sympathized with terrorists, although the juvenile denied affiliation with ISIS.
He was also linked to Instagram threats to a Catholic High School in England that “were so severe in nature that up to 100 students were removed from the school fearing some kind of attack.”
Because Johnson was a minor, the FBI did not want to charge him, instead believing that “a redirection approach would be the most beneficial regarding his conduct.” He was warned to “cease all social media activities related to ISIS and any other terrorist organization.”
By March, Johnson was again engaging in suspicious online activity. Jupiter police asked the FBI about their investigation into the troubled youth on March 5, and were told the Bureau would have affidavits for federal charges ready “in the next several weeks.”
Johnson killed Jovanni Sierra on March 12.
The murder occurred at BallenIsles Country Club, WPLG reported. It was Sierra’s 13th birthday. He and Johnson were at the home for a sleepover.
At 4 am, Johnson made the decision to kill Sierra, Simon, and Bancroft in their sleep with a knife he brought.
He first stabbed Sierra multiple times and slit his throat, leaving him dead. Simon went to the room to investigate sounds she heard, and was immediately attacked, being cut multiple times.
According to the Palm Beach Post, her son rushed to her defense, engaging in a “brutal fight” with the attacker that allowed his mother to escape to a neighbor’s home, where she called police.
The 13-year-old escaped the house through a second-story window after being stabbed 32 times. He later had his kidney removed.
The boy’s father, Lucas Bancroft, called his son a “hero.”
Johnson was charged with one count of first degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.