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Detectives say man charged is ‘the only one’ who could’ve killed teen in Walgreens stabbing

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo, (KRDO) -- A 28-year-old man accused of stabbing and killing a Colorado Springs high school student appeared in court for a preliminary hearing. During his court appearance Friday, the suspect claimed someone else murdered her while detectives said he was the only person who could've killed the teen.

Joshua Johnson is accused of killing his coworker, 17-year-old Riley Whitelaw, in a back room of a Colorado Springs Walgreens in June.

During Friday's hearing, three detectives with the Colorado Springs testified about the killing. They all described an "odd" relationship between Whitelaw and Johnson.

On June 11, detective Mike Lee said the manager at the Walgreens told him Johnson was "adamant" that Whitelaw take a break from work at 5:30 p.m. the day of her death.

When asked why, the suspect told the manager "I have to do something," according to testimony provided by Lee.

Records show Whitelaw signed off for her break that evening at 5:28 p.m. Moments before that, Lee said Johnson was seen on surveillance camera stacking up nine crates to block the view of the camera.

According to police testimony, it took managers nearly 90 minutes to find Whitelaw's body. She had suffered multiple stab and defensive wounds.

During that time, police say managers believed she and Johnson were missing and were actively trying to call them.

During their investigation, detectives learned that Johnson went home from the store and was seen on camera just before 6 p.m. According to police testimony, he was only home for three minutes before leaving in a "hurry."

Six hours after leaving his Colorado Springs home, Johnson was found walking along I-25 just north of Trinidad.

Inside the home, detectives said they found two articles of clothing belonging to Johnson that had blood on them.

He was taken into custody and eventually interviewed by detectives in Colorado Springs.

During that interview, Johnson claimed he was "attacked" in the break room by "some guy." Johnson claimed that the man was a visitor to the Walgreens store earlier in the day.

CSPD detectives said they looked into that person's alibi and found that he was seen on surveillance video at work on a different side of town during the time of the murder.

During his interview with detectives, Johnson admitted he had a "small crush" on Whitelaw, but said it "didn't go anywhere." According to court docs previously obtained by KRDO, Whitelaw had requested to work a different schedule from Johnson because he made her feel uncomfortable.

When asked why he "ran away," Johnson said it was because he was "afraid."

He claimed the attacker said he knew where he lived.

Despite his claims about another suspect, multiple detectives said the only person who could have killed the teen was Johnson.

The preliminary hearing will resume Wednesday, Sept. 21 due to an absence of a defense attorney.

During that hearing, one CSPD detective will be cross-examined by the attorney. After that ends, the judge will rule on whether or not there is enough evidence to go to trial.

Previous coverage here:

Docs: Teen asked not to work with coworker facing charges for her murder at Walgreens

Labor attorney raises concerns about handling of complaint before murder at Colorado Springs Walgreens

Autopsy: Teen stabbed more than 40 times in attack, Walgreens coworker in custody

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