Police in Baltimore arrested a 33-year-old woman after officers found the decomposing and malnourished bodies of her seven-year-old niece and five-year-old nephew in the trunk of her car during a routine traffic stop.
According to The Baltimore Sun, officers discovered the bodies of seven-year-old Joshlyn Marie James Johnson and Larry Darnell O’Neil, 5, after the suspect Nicole Michelle Johnson’s vehicle was stopped for overspeeding on July 28. The minors had been under Johnson’s care since 2019 after their mother relocated to Maryland from Ohio and was unable to provide for them, court documents stated.
The charging documents reveal that after Johnson was pulled over, the officer discovered she was driving without a license and also with temporary tags and registration. And when the officer informed Johnson her car was going to be towed after issuing her with citations, the suspect replied saying, “It doesn’t matter, I won’t be here in five days,” and “Y’all going to see me on the news making my big debut.”
While Johnson was taking her stuff out of the vehicle’s trunk prior to it being towed, the officer smelled something decomposing emanating from that area. A subsequent search of a suitcase Johnson tried hiding while taking it out of the trunk revealed she was keeping one of the children’s bodies in it. Homicide detectives later discovered the body of the second child inside a plastic tote after they responded to the scene.
Authorities said Joshlyn weighed 18 pounds while Larry weighed 21 pounds. “According to doctors, it would have taken several months of malnourishment to attain these weights,” the charging documents stated, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Prior to the bodies being discovered, the suspect told the officer the stench emanating from her vehicle was from unwashed blankets she was using while sleeping in the car. And following the discovery of the deceased minors, Johnson told investigators she was unaware there were bodies in her car, adding that she thought the stench was coming from a rat in the car’s engine.
Johnson, however, later detailed the circumstances surrounding the death of the children, telling investigators that Joshlyn passed away in May last year after she hit her head on the ground while she was assaulting her because the minor had gotten her angry. She also told investigators Larry did not wake up from his sleep after he informed her he was exhausted and wanted to rest. That was two months ago. Johnson, who was keeping Joshlyn’s body in the trunk of her car at the time, said she then put her brother’s body in the same location.
The suspect faces a slew of charges including neglect for failing to report the deaths of the two kids, disposal of their bodies as well as child abuse that caused their death.