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Investigators suspect arson killed woman

Gaston County police have questioned the ex-husband and an ex-boyfriend of a woman who died Wednesday in a fire investigators suspect was set intentionally.

Police haven't charged anyone and say the men are only two of “less than 10” people police want to question, said police Capt. Calvin Shaw.

Investigators spoke to Lucy Dye Johnson's ex-husband, James Johnson of Oak Island, and ex-boyfriend James Spelock Jr. of York, S.C., Shaw said. Shaw declined to say what they discussed.

But Lucy Johnson accused her husband of threatening violence and harassing her, court records show. The couple divorced in January. The marriage was childless.

The same month, Lucy Johnson separated from Spelock, the father of her son, Cason, born Dec. 26. She had fought with Spelock, filing an assault charge against him in September after an argument, records show. The assault charge was later dropped.

But Johnson and Spelock were battling in court over primary custody of Cason, records show.

“There have been some problems in the past,” Shaw said. “We're looking into that.”

The Observer could not reach Spelock or James Johnson by telephone Wednesday.

Lucy Johnson, a 31-year-old emergency room nurse, was found dead in her home on Hidden Meadows Court in the Country Meadows subdivision early Wednesday.

A neighbor called 911 at 3:01 a.m., and by the time firefighters arrived, the two-story house was engulfed. It took five departments until 3:45 to control the blaze.

Johnson was four months pregnant with her third child. In addition to Cason, she had a 7-year-old daughter, Lauren, from an earlier relationship. Both children were staying with relatives Wednesday morning.

Lauren has cystic fibrosis and requires daily care, including enzyme supplements to help her digest her food, neighbors said.

Johnson had worked at Kings Mountain Hospital since 2001, often pulling 12-hour shifts, neighbors said. “She was a dedicated employee since she came to work, and we'll miss her,” said Dotty Leatherwood, a vice president for Cleveland County HealthCare System, which owns the hospital.

Johnson had lived in Country Meadows for three or four years, said Teresa Colvard, who lived next door. When Johnson moved in, she walked right over and made friends, Colvard said.

Colvard said she spoke to Johnson on Tuesday, and she had good news: She was engaged to the man whose child she was carrying, and she was wearing a new diamond ring.

“She was very happy over her engagement,” Colvard said. “We're all going to miss her.”

Staff writers Joe DePriest and Steve Lyttle and staff photographer Todd Sumlin contributed.

Gaston County police have questioned the ex-husband and an ex-boyfriend of a woman who died Wednesday in a fire investigators suspect was set intentionally.

Police haven't charged anyone and say the men are only two of “less than 10” people police want to question, said police Capt. Calvin Shaw.

Investigators spoke to Lucy Dye Johnson's ex-husband, James Johnson of Oak Island, and ex-boyfriend James Spelock Jr. of York, S.C., Shaw said. Shaw declined to say what they discussed.

But Lucy Johnson accused her husband of threatening violence and harassing her, court records show. The couple divorced in January. The marriage was childless.

The same month, Lucy Johnson separated from Spelock, the father of her son, Cason, born Dec. 26. She had fought with Spelock, filing an assault charge against him in September after an argument, records show. The assault charge was later dropped.

But Johnson and Spelock were battling in court over primary custody of Cason, records show.

“There have been some problems in the past,” Shaw said. “We're looking into that.”

The Observer could not reach Spelock or James Johnson by telephone Wednesday.

Lucy Johnson, a 31-year-old emergency room nurse, was found dead in her home on Hidden Meadows Court in the Country Meadows subdivision early Wednesday.

A neighbor called 911 at 3:01 a.m., and by the time firefighters arrived, the two-story house was engulfed. It took five departments until 3:45 to control the blaze.

Johnson was four months pregnant with her third child. In addition to Cason, she had a 7-year-old daughter, Lauren, from an earlier relationship. Both children were staying with relatives Wednesday morning.

Lauren has cystic fibrosis and requires daily care, including enzyme supplements to help her digest her food, neighbors said.

Johnson had worked at Kings Mountain Hospital since 2001, often pulling 12-hour shifts, neighbors said. “She was a dedicated employee since she came to work, and we'll miss her,” said Dotty Leatherwood, a vice president for Cleveland County HealthCare System, which owns the hospital.

Johnson had lived in Country Meadows for three or four years, said Teresa Colvard, who lived next door. When Johnson moved in, she walked right over and made friends, Colvard said.

Colvard said she spoke to Johnson on Tuesday, and she had good news: She was engaged to the man whose child she was carrying, and she was wearing a new diamond ring.

“She was very happy over her engagement,” Colvard said. “We're all going to miss her.”

Staff writers Joe DePriest and Steve Lyttle and staff photographer Todd Sumlin contributed.

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