In 2003, Taraji’s son Marcell was only nine-years-old when his father was stabbed to death.
Losing a parent can be difficult for any child, but when they’re murdered, it’s often a scenario that requires an uncomfortable conversation. High school sweethearts Taraji P. Henson and William LaMarr “Mark” Johnson welcomed their son, Marcell, into the world back in 1994. Tragically, in 2003, Johnson was stabbed to death after confronting a married couple about his friend’s slashed tires. In a report made by The Washington Post at the time, Russell Nickelson knocked Johnson over with a ceramic lamp while Charlotte Nickelson repeatedly stabbed him in his head, torso, and legs. When Washington, D.C. police arrived, Johnson was “semiconscious,” but he succumbed to his injuries approximately an hour later.
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On Peace of Mind with Taraji, the Oscar-nominated actress spoke candidly about how she broke the news to then-nine-year-old Marcell about his father’s passing. “Later on in life, he found out and he came back to me and was like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me my daddy was murdered?’ And so then we had to get therapy.”
“I didn’t have the balls. It wouldn’t come out,” Taraji admitted. “It was in the paper and I didn’t know how to tell him. He was stabbed to death. It was the worst way you could die. I just didn’t have the words. I didn’t know how to tell a nine-year-old.” Therapist Sierra Hillsman is also featured on an upcoming episode and gave advice as to how to break such devastating news to young children.
“I would definitely say use age-appropriate language, explaining sometimes there are situations where people do evil things to other people. In this situation, somebody killed your father,” said Sierra.
According to reports, Russell Nickelson was sentenced to 50 months in prison while Charlotte Nickelson received 30 months. Watch the sneak peek of Facebook Watch’s Peace of Mind with Taraji below.