Crime & Courts

Cops say he raped, murdered a Columbia woman. After 3 years on the run, suspect found

What happens in a rape kit exam?

A sexual assault evidence kit contains forensic evidence gathered from a victim's body during an intrusive, hours-long examination. Testing kits can find DNA evidence used to identify rapists, boost prosecutions or exonerate the falsely accused.
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A sexual assault evidence kit contains forensic evidence gathered from a victim's body during an intrusive, hours-long examination. Testing kits can find DNA evidence used to identify rapists, boost prosecutions or exonerate the falsely accused.

Paul Street is lined with 13 homes and an empty slab where a house used to stand. The street is between North Main Street and I-277 in the Greenview community. Most of the homes are humble, box-shaped white houses built in the 1950s with clean yards. It was on Paul Street where police say a man raped and murdered a woman. He eluded authorities for three years. Now, he’s in a local jail.

Police accuse Carlos Lowe of breaking into the Paul Street home of Ann Johnson, who was 46 at the time, in September 2015. He held her against her will inside the home before the sexual assault, eventually strangling her, the coroner’s office determined at the time. Johnson knew Lowe, according to police. Columbia Police Department said officers were performing a welfare check at Johnson’s residence when they found her body, The State reported.

Known as Ann Marie by her friends and family, Johnson was “upbeat, fun-loving and a caring person,” her obituary read. She was born in Manhattan and went to the University of South Carolina. She loved bowling. Online posts show that she bowled in tournaments across South Carolina.

“On my way to Charleston to bowl in the women’s Azalea tournament. Wish me luck!!” was one of her last posts on social media.

“In spite of whatever issues that may have surrounded her, she was easy-going and humble,” her obituary said.

She is buried in Serenity Memorial Gardens in Columbia.

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DNA evidence tied Lowe to the crime scene, a spokesperson for the Columbia Police Department said. In 2015, investigators found a car that was taken from Johnson’s home at an apartment complex, Matthew Stevens of WACH reported. The vehicle had Florida tags.

An immediate suspect, Lowe escaped police custody for three years until he was found in Florida this September. Lowe was picked up on a fugitive from justice warrant, CPD said. He was held until November at the Orange County Detention Center in Orlando until being extradited back to South Carolina. Late Friday afternoon, a cold case investigator with CPD and a U.S. Marshal brought Lowe back to Columbia.

Lowe, 55, faces charges of murder, first degree criminal sexual conduct, first degree burglary and kidnapping for holding Johnson in her home. He could spend life in prison.

He was put into Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center where he’ll stay until a preliminary trial before a judge in Richland County. The judge will determine whether he receives bond, but it is unusual for a suspect in connection with multiple violent crimes to receive bond.

“Ann Marie always made people around her smile,” her obituary read. “She had a spirit that drew you to her. She was very ambitious and determined to succeed at whatever she sought to accomplish. Her love for her family and friends always presented itself through her acts of kindness.”

Ann Marie Johnson.jpg
Ann Marie Johnson from a funeral program in her honor. Provided to The State.

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