The other Mitchell Johnson, the one his friends saw, was a gang-loving, emotional kid who once threatened to shoot himself over the breakup of a summer romance and was truly troubled by his parents' divorce. "Since they split, he's gone downhill," said Mike Niemeyer, Mitchell's 17-year-old second cousin. "He'd look for trouble. He'd get into fights. If little kids pissed him off, he'd try to beat them up. He was easily pissed off."
That doesn't jibe with anything Buster Johnson can remember. Mitchell's paternal grandfather does not see the divorce as a problem. The last time he saw Mitchell, Buster says, "there was nothing unusual going on." Not on the surface, perhaps. If there is a motive in this case, it may lie in a world that only children are privy to.