DA, Sheriff Announce Arrest In Westfield Cold Case Homicide

MAYVILLE – An arrest has been made in connection with the Nov. 2008 murder of 55-year-old Westfield man Jeffrey Johnson, according to an announcement Thursday morning from District Attorney Patrick Swanson and Sheriff Joe Gerace.
Rance “Randy” Freeman, Jr., 31, of Mayville, was arraigned today in Chautauqua County Court on a two-count indictment alleging two charges of second-degree murder.
Johnson was discovered deceased in his Westfield home on Nov. 8, 2008. The Village of Westfield Police Department, Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department, and the Chautauqua County Forensic Investigation Team responded and began an investigation which led to the indictment of Freeman.

Victim, Jeffery Johnson. Image courtesy the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson credited the perseverance of the investigators, adding, “My thanks go out to the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and Westfield Police for their continued efforts in investigating this case.”
Swanson told WNYNewsNow that Freeman is charged with two counts of second-degree murder because the allegation is that the killing was intentional and that it occurred during a felony.
Swanson said he’s pleased his office is able to advance the case.
“We’re pleased that we can move this case forward,” Swanson said. “The investigatory agency in our office will continue to look at these cases when evidence comes in, when new witnesses come forward. That’s what gets the ball rolling on these.”
“Fortunately, Westfield PD and the Sheriff’s Office continued to grind away on this, and we reached a point where we felt it incumbent upon our office to move the case forward and, unfortunately, that’s not the norm in our cold cases, and it isn’t anywhere.”
Sheriff Joe Gerace told WNYNewsNow Thursday that he’s happy with the work, thus far, and said that the victims and their families are what allow authorities to continue the hard work despite initial frustration.
“I’m very pleased. This is a case we’ve been working on since the murder occurred and, obviously, some significant advances have been made in the case and we were able to present it to the DA for prosecution,” Gerace said. “Sometimes, it’s very frustrating that we may have identified a suspect but not have any appropriate evidence necessary to go forward with the case, and in other cases, not having a suspect at all. The families and victims deserve us to continue to work theses cases, and hopefully successfully prosecute them.”
Gerace was unable to talk about particulars of the case.
Freeman, of Mayville, entered a plea of not guilty before Chautauqua County Court Judge Stephen Cass. Bail was set at $500,000 cash or $1,000,000 property. Freeman is due to return to court for the completion of discovery and standard motions on a date yet to be determined.
The charges carry a potential sentence ranging from fifteen years to life up to twenty-five years to life imprisonment.
Reporter Justin Gould contributed to this report.

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