SEARLES — A man who held a “death party” for his wife now is charged with murder after an autopsy showed his wife died of a methamphetamine overdose.

Duane Arden Johnson, 58, initially was charged with criminal neglect in the January death of his wife, Debra Lynn Johnson, 69. The Brown County Attorney's Office added a third-degree murder charge on Monday.

A Brown County Sheriff's Office investigator received Debra Johnson's autopsy results last month. The cause of death is listed as methamphetamine toxicity, according to the new charging document.

The added unintentional murder charge is applicable when someone provides an illegal drug that causes a death. It carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Duane Johnson has been in the Brown County jail since his wife's Jan. 24 death.

He called to report his wife had died, and when the first deputy arrived, he came outside naked, according to the court complaint. The words “Death Parde God Hell” were painted on the front door.

Deputies found Debra Johnson's body still warm and wrapped in a sheet.

Duane Johnson told authorities his wife had been in a nursing home and she begged him to take her home to die.

The New Ulm Medical Center informed investigators that Debra Johnson had been at a transitional care center and her husband removed her against medical advice. Debra Johnson had diabetes and high blood pressure, a mood disorder, and had had two heart attacks.

Duane Johnson said his wife asked him to hold a “death party.” He said she stopped taking her medications and they took methamphetamine and had sex and listened to their favorite song: Quiet Riot's “Metal Health.”

After his wife stopped eating and drinking, Duane Johnson said he used snow to wet her month. He said she had been having convulsions but died peacefully.

Authorities allegedly found six guns in the home that Duane Johnson said were stolen, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition. He also is facing a charge of receiving stolen property.

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Staff Writer

Public safety and K-12 education reporter 507-344-6354