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Father of slain daughter says her death is the result of flawed judicial system

Bricen Rivers (left) is charged with killing his ex-girlfriend Lauren Johansen (right) upon his release from jail (Photos courtesy Harrison County Sheriff's Department/Facebook)

After a multi-agency manhunt for murder suspect Bricen John Rivers ended with his arrest in Harrison County, the family of Lauren Johansen, the woman he is accused of murdering, says that her death could have been preventable. 

Rivers, 23, is the ex-boyfriend of Johansen, 22, and had been confined in the Davidson County, Tenn. jail since December 2023 for beating and kidnapping Johansen in Nashville. Just days after his release, Rivers allegedly slayed his former girlfriend in south Mississippi. 

The Harrison County Coroner’s Office confirmed that Lauren Johansen was found wrapped in a sheet in the back of her car. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers from multiple Mississippi law enforcement agencies located Rivers and arrested him in the woods near the cemetery where Johansen’s body was found. 

Authorities say that Johansen was reported missing by family in Hattiesburg, where she attended Southern Miss as a nursing student. Her father, Lance Johansen, told WSMV in Nashville that he warned every member of the court system he encountered, including the judge in the case and the Nashville District Attorney, that Rivers would kill Johansen if he happened to be released.  

The Davidson County District Attorney’s District Attorney’s Office said Rivers’ bond was reduced from $251,000 to $150,000 and he was subsequently released on June 24. Lance Johansen said that the D.A.’s office left him a voicemail he did not see until July 1. 

“Bricen Rivers was released from custody,” said a recording of the voicemail from the District Attorney’s Office in Nashville obtained by WLOX. “He was supposed to report straight to a GPS company, and he was not to leave Davidson County. But as soon as he was released, he did not report to that GPS monitoring company, and he has not been heard from. I wanted to make sure Lauren was safe.” 

Lance Johansen said the family immediately feared for her life and contacted authorities in Mississippi. He believes that his daughter would still be alive if Rivers was properly tracked upon release. 

“If he had an ankle monitor on and things were done properly, I think there is no way possible this could have happened,” the victim’s father said. 

Rivers was transported to the Harrison County Adult Detention Facility in Gulfport and charged with one count of murder. He’s being held in lieu of a $1 million bond set by Justice Court Judge Nick Patano.

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