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James Marshall Johnson

James Marshall Johnson

A man has been charged with homicide after a Klamath Falls woman was found badly beaten outside her burning home Friday.

James Marshall Johnson, 39, is charged with homicide, tampering with evidence, assault, strangulation and menacing, according to Klamath Falls Police Department Capt. Rob Dentinger.

Johnson is the son-in-law of Joan Pittennger, 69, who lived in the 100 block of Wendling Street. When officers arrived to the scene Friday night, they found Pittennger badly beaten, with a weak pulse and her home on fire. Johnson had fled the scene by the time police arrived. He was arrested Saturday night by Klamath Falls police.

Officers determined the fire at the residence had been intentionally set and suspected Johnson in the arson as well as the beating. Dentinger said the house was not destroyed.

Pittennger was transported from the scene to Sky Lakes Medical Center and was flown to another area hospital where she died.

Johnson is also accused of assaulting his wife, Pittennger’s daughter. Dentinger said Johnson and his wife were planning to divorce.

Dentinger said he thought Johnson had “some mental health issues” and was “angry about the divorce.”

Dentinger said Johnson and his wife were not living together.

“It was not a crime of opportunity,” Dentinger said. “He had been violent with the daughter before.”

An investigation into the incident is ongoing. Check back for updates to this story at