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‘That could’ve been me’: Man recalls time spent with Hawaii Loa Ridge murder suspect

Kai Johnson was looking for a friend and a possible relationship when someone responded to him on a dating app.
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 9:39 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2022 at 10:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kai Johnson was looking for a friend and a possible relationship when someone responded to him on a dating app.

“A few weeks ago we started messaging on Tinder and then we set up a date to go out, and then we met up at a bar,” he recalled.

That other man was Juan Tejedor Baron.

Baron, 23, is behind bars in California, where he was arrested in connection with the gruesome murder of a Hawaii Loa Ridge man.

Johnson said he first met Baron about a month ago. He said he also introduced his friends to Baron, who led them to believe that he and his parents were well off and that he was working as a creative financial advisor.

“We always thought that he just had a good job, good money,” said Johnson. “He was driving some Audi, like an A6 or A8 or whatever, living in a nice house and so forth. We didn’t think anything of it.”

Baron reportedly told the same lie to police, claiming to own the Audi, as well as the $2 million luxury home. In reality, both belonged to 73-year-old Gary Ruby, and court documents said Baron forged papers to take them.

“Almost every night he was asking us to go out to bars and stuff, and he was the one who was like always paying for it,” recalled Johnson. “It was probably the other — like the victim’s card he was using.”

Baron was charged with murder, theft and identity theft on Friday, and allegedly confessed to murdering Ruby after he told him he had HIV.

Baron sometimes invited Johnson and friends to the Hawaii Loa Ridge home, but one room was off-limits.

“There was one room that — he never tried to go in to, but he was like, ‘Oh yeah, that room’s always locked. You can’t go in it,’” said Johnson.

Johnson didn’t recall smelling anything, but admits that Baron would smoke pot while they were there.

Johnson also said he never saw anyone else at the home besides Baron.

The last time the two were together was at a club last week Friday. Three days later, Baron was a wanted man.

Johnson said there were no red flags when they hung out together, and that he freaked out at the news. “I did, yeah. My friend called me literally yesterday morning and even before she even said anything, I was like, I know what you’re gonna tell me.

“She’s like, ‘Yes, we were in his house.’”

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