Mom of woman killed warns against online dates

Posted at 11:02 PM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 08:08:32-04

Angela Russo’s family is sharing their heartbreak as a cautionary tale when it comes to online dating.

It’s been a living nightmare for the Maricopa family after their daughter was killed during a blind date and the truth remained hidden with her body for more than a month.

Angela's mother Diana Schalow says Lashawn Johnson used a fake name in his dating profile. He told her daughter that he was in the military -- complete with a picture in army fatigues -- and that he was trustworthy and single.

They’ve since learned it was all lies and in fact he had a live-in girlfriend and an estranged wife.

According to court documents, when Russo went to meet him at his Maryvale apartment for their first date, at some point he attacked and cornered her before allegedly killing her. Authorities believe he tried to hide the evidence by burning her car and burying her body in the desert near Tonopah.

RELATED: Suspect in Angela Russo death says he 'made a mistake'

Johnson told detectives he would pray for Angela’s family and asked them for forgiveness. Schalow says that won’t bring her daughter back but she is trying to learn the grace to someday forgive from her youngest child.

"She has a 7-year-old brother and he said ‘Mommy, at least he's trying to say he's sorry’" said Schalow.

The details are sinister and cause more pain but her mother says if sharing the story can protect even one person then it will help keep her daughter’s memory alive.         

"She really, truly was trying to date to maybe find Mr. Right. And our lives will never be the same because she found Mr. Wrong in every possible way," said Schalow.

RELATED: Seven tips to remember when searching for love online

The family is planning a memorial service and says it will be open to the public and will update the information when details are finalized.

Police remind anyone using online dating sites to arrange the first several meetings in public places and tell someone else where you’ll be and who you’re meeting whenever possible. 

You can also search someone’s criminal history on the Maricopa County Superior Court website.