A woman has been arrested after she was found driving around with her dead niece and nephew in her car.
Nicole Johnson, 33, from Baltimore in the US state of Maryland, was pulled over on Wednesday about 11pm and police found the severely malnourished bodies of Joshlyn Johnson, 7, and Larry O’Neil, 5, in the boot of her car.
Johnson had been granted custody of the siblings. A statement of probable cause said the severely decomposed body of the girl was found to weigh just 8kg. The boy was only 9.5kg at the time of his autopsy.
Doctors reported it “would have taken several months of malnourishment to attain these weights,” according to the charging documents.
Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt issued a statement calling the crime “atrocious.”
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr’s statement called it a “horrific and a heartbreaking loss of life”.
Johnson faces numerous charges, including neglect and first degree child abuse that resulted in the deaths of children under the age of 13. No lawyer was listed in court documents to comment on her behalf.
Specifics of the case outlined in a statement of probable cause are chilling.
Police allege that the 2008 Ford Focus Johnson was driving had fake temporary tags and was found to be unregistered and uninsured.
When an officer told Johnson that she had to report to court within five days for the various infractions, she reportedly told them she wouldn’t be around and they would see her making her “big debut” on the news.
When she was told her car would be towed and she could remove any personal belongings, she then removed a tote bag and something wrapped in a garbage bag from the trunk. The officer reported smelling a powerful stench.
When the officer saw maggots in the bag and discovered the decomposing body of a young child, Johnson allegedly attempted to run away. She was swiftly caught and detectives say they found the other child’s body in a tote bag.
According to the charging documents, she initially told officers she had no idea the bodies of her niece and nephew were in the trunk. She thought the stench was from a “rat in the engine,” officers wrote. She later told investigators that she was staying at a motel when she hit the girl.
MORE: This is where the suspect was stopped on Eastern Blvd near Wagners Lane. There are still a lot of unknowns such as the relationship between the victim and suspects, where they were found inside the car, how long were they dead, and if they were reported missing. @wbaltv11 pic.twitter.com/kEoow8qfwY
— Tre Ward (@TreWardWBAL) July 29, 2021
The child hit her head, and Johnson put the body in a suitcase and carried it around in the car “for many months,” the charging documents state.
Some two months ago, according to the charging documents, the other child was “tired,” went to lie down in the car and never woke up. Police allege Johnson then put his body in a tote bag and stuffed him in the trunk next to the body of his dead sister.
Investigators say the children’s biological mother, Dachelle Johnson, told detectives that she left her youngsters in her sister’s care because she was unable to care for them. The transfer of the children occurred at some point after the mother moved from Ohio to Maryland in July 2019.
“We will continue to provide every resource to support our Department’s ongoing investigation into this devastating case,” Mr Olszewski said.
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