Bronx headless torso leads to murder rap against ex-con-turned activist Sheldon Johnson Jr.

NEW YORK — A high-profile ex-con-turned-anti-violence activist who recently guested on Joe Rogan’s hit podcast was charged with murder Thursday after he was caught with a headless armless torso in a Bronx apartment.

On Thursday Sheldon Johnson Jr., 48, was charged with murder, manslaughter and weapon possession for allegedly killing 44-year-old Colin Small.

“I’m innocent!” Johnson Jr. yelled to reporters as he was led from the 44th Precinct stationhouse Thursday afternoon to appear in Bronx Criminal Court.

Police took Johnson Jr. in for questioning after officers responding to reports of gunfire found the suspect with Small’s mutilated corpse inside a sixth-floor unit at a Summit Ave. apartment building near W. 162nd St. at around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, cops said.

Johnson Jr. was hired to work as a client advocate for Queens Defender after spending 25 years in an upstate prison for a 1997 robbery he committed in his early 20s. He was released from prison in May, records show.

On a Feb. 1 episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, lawyer Josh Dubin called Johnson Jr. “a miracle” and told the show’s host that he had been unfairly sentenced for the robbery that left his victim with only “two stitches.”

“(He) was basically told by an African American judge that you don’t matter, you don’t count and I’m going to throw your life away,” said Dubin, who appeared on Rogan’s podcast as a guest alongside Johnson Jr.

Residents of the Summit Avenue apartment building heard two shots coming from a sixth-floor apartment around 1 a.m. Tuesday, followed by a man shouting, “Please don’t, I have a family,” and then another two shots, cops said.

Law enforcement wasn’t notified of the gunshots until the building’s super — who complained that a neighbor waited hours before informing him of the disturbance — called in a wellness check for Small around 11:30 a.m., police said.

Responding officers were directed to a sixth-floor apartment where they were met by Johnson Jr. around 8:30 p.m., according to law enforcement.

Inside they found the torso and one foot stuffed inside a blue bin.

Small’s decapitated head was found with a bullet wound alongside his severed arms, legs, and remaining foot inside a freezer in NYCHA’s Kings Towers housing development in Harlem, where Johnson Jr. lives, according to police sources.

Upon reviewing the building’s security feed, the Bronx super recovered footage of a man who appears to be Johnson Jr. entering and exiting the building’s elevator carrying garbage bags and containers, including a blue bin. He is seen wearing various outfits, including a newsboy cap and blazer, a boonie hat and beige jacket and a blond woman’s wig with a down puffer.

Johnson’s family was the subject of an expansive 2016 Buzzfeed profile detailing a legacy of crime that began with Johnson Jr.’s father, Sheldon Johnson Sr., whose corrupt influence infected the lives of both his son and grandson.

Deaf and addicted to crack cocaine and heroin, Johnson Sr. was arrested for raping his 7-year-old daughter three times and forced his son to translate for him during drug deals, according to Buzzfeed.

He blamed himself for instilling the behavior in Johnson Jr. that would leave the young man staring down a 50-year prison sentence.

“Generation to generation, it all stems from me,” Johnson Sr. told a Buzzfeed reporter through a sign language interpreter. “I feel disappointed. I regret a lot of the decisions I made in life. It enters my mind all the time. A big, huge amount of guilt. I ruined everything.”

Johnson Jr.’s son, also named Sheldon Johnson, made headlines in 2008 when he attacked a 24-year-old Columbia University graduate student, Mingui Yu, near the corner of Broadway and W. 122nd St. in Morningside Heights, punching his victim repeatedly in the face.

Yu stumbled into traffic in an attempt to flee his teenage attacker but was struck and killed by a passing SUV. The younger Johnson was charged with manslaughter for Yu’s death and would spend 18 months in a juvenile detention boot camp.

Small was imprisoned twice for felony assaults both committed in Manhattan, including a 10-year stint in state prison for which he was paroled in Oct. 2018.