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New podcast: The Killing Month August 1978' tells the violent saga of the Johnston Gang


On August 30, 1978, a 15-year-old girl and her boyfriend were returning from a date to an amusement park in Pennsylvania. As they made their way down the long, dirt driveway to the farmhouse just after midnight in a yellow Volkswagen, they didn't know that two men were quietly waiting and watching them from the darkness of the cornfield. Shortly after they stopped the car, a hail of gunfire rang out from both sides. Robin Miller was shot once in the chin. Her boyfriend, Bruce Johnston Jr., was shot at least eight times in the head and torso.

Somehow, after being shot, Robin was able to jump out of the car, run into her house, climb the stairs and collapse on her bed. She died a few seconds later because the bullet had clipped her carotid artery. Wounded and bleeding profusely, Bruce Jr. followed the love of his life up the stairs and cradled her as she died. He then made a frantic call to police.

This wasn't just any murder. This was a hit meant for the son of the ringleader of a gang of thieves that had terrorized rural Pennsylvania for the better part of a decade.

LISTEN to the Trailer on Wondery Introducing: The Killing Month August 1978

New podcast unravels The Johnston Gang In WRAL's new true crime podcast, The Killing Month August 1978, we begin with the unraveling of the Johnston Gang - the murder of Robin, and the attempted murder of Bruce Junior. This was the night that investigators who had been hot on the trail of the Johnston Gang for years finally understood what they were up against.

As investigators begin to put together the case they realized Robin's murder was the final violent act in one deadly month - August 1978 -when multiple people connected to the gang were killed for the sole purpose of preventing them from talking to police. And the victims weren't just anyone. They were family members who had broken the sacred code of the gang: No matter what, you don't snitch on the family.

Amanda Lamb's personal connection to the story This story is personal to me because back in 1978, when I was just 12 years old, my father, Bill Lamb, was the district attorney of Chester County, Pa., where these murders took place. I am now revisiting this case 45 years later as a journalist, walking the road to understanding this tragedy along with my father, pairing my dusty adolescent recollections with the truth and the facts that I have now learned.

WRAL-TV's Amanda Lamb and her father, Bill.

The Johnstons were responsible for at least six murders, and many people believe there were more. Some of the victims were teenagers. Some of them were buried alive. There were three brothers in the gang. Bruce Sr. was the ringleader. His brothers, David and Norman, were the followers. They were all killers. They remained loyal to each other to the very end, but when it came to people who got in their way, including Bruce Sr.'s son and stepson, they had to be dealt with. Snitches paid with their lives.

WRAL-TV's Amanda Lamb interviews her father, Bill Lamb, for The Killing Month August 1978 Podcast.

The Johnstons built a family crime operation For a decade the Johnstons were successful thieves, stealing large tractors and other heavy machinery from farms. They would back up a tractor-trailer in the middle of the night and roll the large equipment onto the truck and take off. And they didn't just steal farm equipment. They stole everything from luxury sports cars to antiques to art to cash to cigarettes. Basically, they stole anything they could get their hands on. And it was this criminal enterprise, that this band of outlaws, what some would say, was a rural mafia, aimed to protect at all costs.

WATCH the story on Preview: The Killing Month August 1978

What to expect from the podcast In The Killing Month August 1978 you will hear from the people who were there and remember what happened. This includes my father, the district attorney, the investigators who are still alive, a snitch who went into the witness protection program, and the daughter of one of the victims who continues to replay this tragedy in her mind daily. You will also hear from journalists who covered this case from the crimes to the trials and beyond. Former reporter Bruce Mowday even wrote a book about the case called Jailing the Johnston Gang.

This story was the subject of a movie called At Close Range featuring actors Christopher Walken and Sean Penn. But many people close to this case don't feel like the fictionalized version of the story did it justice. In this podcast, our goal is to share the real story, and the stories behind the story.

It's a story about family, what the word family means and what happens when the traditional bonds of family are broken.

It's also a journey between a father and a daughter - my dad and me. It's a journey to understanding, to shine a light on a pivotal moment in the life of our family as well.

The Killing Month August 1978 tells the unbelievable saga of the Johnston Gang along with the gang of justice seekers who pursued them relentlessly.

Listen on Wondery: The Killing Month August 1978 is available ad-free and exclusively on Wondery+. Find Wondery+ in Apple Podcasts or the Wondery App.

Thanks to WRAL-TV's Amanda Lamb for this CapCom story.
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