The HEAT Project was born out of a passion for apprehending society’s predators and a desire to give back to the profession that has given us so much. David Thornton and Cheryl Johnson worked together for several years in the Fort Worth Police Department Violent Personal Crimes Unit.
David received his Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University. David joined the Fort Worth Police Department in 1980. He promoted to detective in 1985 and was assigned to the Major Case Squad in 1986. In 1987, he was selected for the Homicide Division where he spent the next 12 years conducting numerous murder and death investigations. During his tenure in the Homicide Unit, Fort Worth had one of the highest homicide rates in the nation. David promoted to sergeant in 1999 and was assigned to the Major Case Unit, before returning to supervise the Homicide Unit in 2002. David retired in 2010 after over 30 years with the department.
David worked over 24 years on death investigations as a detective and supervisor which include numerous high profile and death penalty cases. He was instrumental in developing the Fort Worth Police Department’s Cold Case Unit which has identified and prosecuted several serial offenders.
Cheryl Johnson joined the Fort Worth Police Department in 1989. She promoted to detective in 1994 and was assigned to the Sexual Assault Unit. In 1999, she was assigned as a detective in the Crime Scene Search Unit before joining the Homicide Unit in 2001. Cheryl promoted to Sergeant in 2006 and returned to supervise the Sexual Assault Unit in 2007. In 2011, Cheryl was selected to supervise the Homicide and Cold Case Units. Cheryl retired in March 2014 after 25 years with the department.
Cheryl has worked on numerous violent crime investigations over the past 19 years to include several high profile murder cases, death penalty cases and serial cases, both in Homicide and Sexual Assault.