Nicole Johnson is being held by Baltimore County Police after it was revealed that she kept the bodies of her niece and nephew in her car for over a year. The bodies were discovered during a routine traffic stop on Thursday and Johnson, 33, was taken into custody.
Johnson was arrested and charged in connection with the deaths of her niece and nephew, according to police. Officers from Baltimore County found 7-year-old Joshlyn Johnson and 5-year-old Larry O’Neil stuffed in the trunk of Johnson’s car. She now faces multiple charges including first-degree child abuse that resulted in the death of a child.
Authorities are still investigating the specifics of the case. As of now, it isn’t clear how or when the children died. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office are working with the Baltimore County Police Department throughout the investigation. It’s currently unclear what happened leading up to the tragic crime, though police have revealed some key details in the case.
Nicole Johnson told detectives that her sister, Dachelle Johnson, asked her to take care of her children back in 2019, according to charging documents posted on Twitter Friday. Johnson explained that her sister was unable to care for the children and that she agreed to take them in.
Johnson told detectives that about a year ago, 7-year-old Joshlyn began upsetting her. It was at that time Johnson began hitting Joshlyn. In one instant, which turned to tragedy, Johnson hit the girl too hard and Joshlyn fell and hit her head.
It isn’t clear if the strike was fatal, though Johnson explained that it was then that she stuffed her niece’s body in a suitcase and threw it in her car. Prior to the officers’ discovery, the body had remained there since May 2020.
Nicole Johnson continued, saying that she put her nephew in the trunk a year later, though she didn’t clarify how or when he passed away. Police charged Johnson with multiple accounts of neglect and child abuse, as well as the unauthorized disposal of their bodies.
“This truly was a devastating incident – one that not only shocked our community to its core, but significantly affected our patrol officers, forensic technicians, and detectives,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt. Johnson’s disgusting crime was discovered by accident after she was issued a citation to appear in court.
On July 28, just after 11:00 p.m., officers noticed that Nicole Johnson had unauthorized tags on her car and was driving without a license. Police explained to Johnson that her car would be towed but she shrugged it off, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“It don’t matter, I won’t be here in five days,” she told the officer. “Y’all going to see me on the news making my big debut.”
While preparing the car to be towed, the officer smelled the decomposing bodies of the young children. Johnson fled the scene when the officer opened the trunk, but she was later taken into custody.
“I am grateful that the harrowing details of this case were thoroughly and quickly uncovered, resulting in an expeditious closure to this tragedy,” Chief Hyatt said Friday. “I want to commend all of our Baltimore County Police Department members who worked tirelessly throughout this investigation to bring justice to these innocent, young victims.”
Hyatt said on Thursday that “tonight, the entire Baltimore County Police Department grieves with the community over the unspeakable deaths of two innocent children. The investigation into this atrocious crime will not stop until those responsible are brought to justice.”
Nicole Johnson lived in the 3500 block of Elmora Avenue. Dani Medley, who is one of Johnson’s neighbors, claimed she didn’t see anything wrong in the days leading up to the gruesome discovery. “They always seemed happy. When the young lady dropped them off, they never seemed like something was wrong. They always seemed like happy kids with a lot of energy,” Medley said of Joshlyn Johnson and Larry O’Neil.
She continued, saying that “for someone who has been taking care of children for 20 some years, I can’t fathom, I couldn’t fathom.”