BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WDTN) – Two children from Ohio were found dead in the trunk of their aunt’s car in Maryland.
According to a release from Baltimore County, on July 28 just after 11 p.m., officers stopped a car in Maryland and found the severely malnourished bodies of the children, identified as 7-year-old Joshlyn Johnson and 5-year-old Larry O’Neil.
Police said 33-year-old Nicole M. Johnson, the children’s aunt, was arrested and faces multiple charges, including first-degree child abuse that resulted in the death of a child under the age of 13.
Investigators say Johnson admitted she had been driving around with the children’s bodies in the car for more than a year.
According to court documents, the children’s mother told detectives she moved to Maryland from Ohio with the children in July 2019. She had temporarily placed the children in Johnson’s custody.
At the time of the autopsy, Joshlyn weighed 18 pounds and Larry weighed 21 pounds. According to court records, doctors said it would have taken several months of malnourishment for the children to reach those weights.
“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, who called it an “atrocious crime.”
“I am grateful that the harrowing details of this case were thoroughly and quickly uncovered,” Hyatt said.
The cause of the children’s deaths was not immediately released. A preliminary hearing for Johnson is set for Aug. 27.