STOCKTON (CBS13) — A Stockton teenager may have been murdered by people he believed were his friends, because of a disorder that keeps him from understanding normal social cues.

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Police have no witnesses or suspects in the death of Malik Johnson, but they don’t believe it’s gang-related.

The possible key to this case may be his unusual medical history. Johnson had what’s known as an attachment disorder, meaning he believed everyone—even strangers—were his friends.

Malik Johnson

That disorder kept him from recognizing basic social cues, like if someone was being nice, mean, or worse, his mother, Cynthia Wade, said.

“He would go back over there the next day like, ‘Hi, OK, like you can beat me up, it’s OK. I’ll keep coming back and let you beat me up again,’” Wade said.

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Wade sat nervously in a chair on Saturday night, relieved briefly by a familiar knock on the door.

“I sighed like ‘Phew, OK, Malik is home,’ and I went to the door and said, ‘Malik is that you?’” she said.

But instead of her 18-year-old son, it was a police officer delivering the tragic news.


A small memorial marks the spot where Johnson was fatally stabbed, less than two blocks from his Stockton home. His mother wasn’t allowed to see him in the hospital, and never got to say goodbye.

With no witnesses coming forward, the grieving mother is making a desperate plea.

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“I want to know what happened to my son,” she said. “If you know anything please, you don’t have to give your name or anything, just help.”