Body Found ‘Mutilated’ Days After Ex’s Release From Jail

In a tragic turn of events, a 22-year-old woman was found dead in her car in a Mississippi cemetery, days after her ex-boyfriend was released from jail in Nashville, Tennessee. The woman, Lauren Johansen, was discovered “mutilated” and wrapped in sheets and trash bags. Her father, Lance Johansen, recounted the series of events in an emotional interview with local ABC and CBS affiliate WLOX.

The family had pleaded with a Nashville judge not to release 23-year-old Bricen Rivers from jail, fearing for Lauren’s safety. Despite their pleas, Rivers was released and subsequently, Lauren was found murdered. The family had appeared in court, urging Judge Cheryl Blackburn not to release Rivers, who was facing charges of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated stalking, and coercion of a witness from December 2023. Lauren was the victim in the pending case.

Judge Blackburn, whose competency has been questioned by local defense lawyers, reduced Rivers’ bond from $250,000 to $150,000. It is unclear when exactly Rivers was released, but it was only a matter of days before Lauren’s death. Prosecutors reportedly objected to the bond reduction.

Rivers allegedly violated the conditions of his release, which required him to stay in Davidson County, Tennessee, and to wear an ankle monitor. He was later arrested and charged with Lauren Johansen’s murder across state lines.

Lance Johansen shared a message he received from the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office on July 1, informing him that Rivers was out of jail and had failed to report to a GPS monitoring company. The message also stated that Rivers was not to leave Davidson County.

By the time the family received this message, it was almost too late to save Lauren. Lance Johansen texted his daughter and received a response that didn’t sound like her. The next morning, he noticed that the tracking feature on Lauren’s Life360 location sharing app was no longer active.

Lance reported his daughter missing to the police in Hattiesburg after he discovered that a security camera at Lauren’s residence was not functioning, the front door was open, and both Lauren and her car were missing. Lauren’s car was later found in a cemetery in Harrison County. Lance Johansen knew his daughter was dead when he saw the car, but he was not prepared for the gruesome sight that awaited him.

“When we got there, her car was in the middle of the cemetery and she was in the back of the car wrapped up in sheets and trash bags. She was basically beaten to death,” Lance Johansen told WLOX. “Her face was smashed in, her head was smashed in, she was brutally beaten to the point she couldn’t see out of either eye when she finally died and there were multiple holes in her head. I helped the coroner lift her body out of the car. It was just mutilated.”

Rivers allegedly fled when police arrived at the cemetery but was arrested in the woods several hours later. Jail records show that Rivers was booked with a $1,000,000 bond shortly after midnight on July 4.