Trial begins today for man accused of killing man, dumping body at local nursery

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — The trial for a New Mexico man charged in the death of a man whose body was found wrapped in plastic, stuffed in a blue sleeping bag and dumped near a wooded area is scheduled to start today.

David Savage, 64, is charged with murder, felonious assault, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence in the death of 47-year-old Steven T. Johnson of Clay Twp.

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Johnson’s body was found by a Brown’s Nursery worker in October 2018.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s detectives tracked Savage to Wisconsin, and told police there where he was.

Savage was arrested in the following weeks by Oak Creek Police.

Former Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said early on in the investigation that Savage and Johnson likely argued about a woman and drugs before Savage allegedly beat Johnson to death.

“I got a tip personally about where he did it, how he did it and it was on a vacant house on Eichelberger (Avenue),” Plummer told News Center 7 after Savage’s arrest.

Detectives searched the house in the neighborhood off Gettysburg Avenue. Evidence uncovered inside convinced them that Johnson was killed there, likely by Savage.

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“It was over a female and drugs. These people run in bad crowds, doing drugs. They were fighting over a woman,” Plummer said at the time.

Deputies said Johnson was killed sometime between 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 and 1:45 a.m. Oct. 8, according to documents.

The sheriff said Savage may have used a metal pipe to kill Johnson.

A coroner’s investigator said Johnson died of blunt force trauma.

His body was found Oct. 8 wrapped in plastic and dumped miles away near a treeline off Arlington Road in Clay Twp. on property owned by Browns Nursery.

Investigators said that Savage is from New Mexico, but described him as a “drifter” who spent time in Dayton and Wisconsin, where authorities there arrested him on drug charges in connection to methamphetamine.

“This meth is problematic for us, they stay up for four days in a row, they’re wired, going crazy, chasing the next high and they’re violent,” Plummer said in October 2018.