Police officers were left “significantly affected” after a routine traffic stop led to an “unspeakable” and “atrocious” discovery in the trunk of a woman’s car, resulting in her arrest. What these officers found is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine.
Nicole Michelle Johnson, a 33-year-old Baltimore, Maryland woman, was speeding at approximately 11 pm on a Wednesday night in Essex when she was pulled over by police, who discovered she didn’t have a license or insurance and was using a fake, temporary tag. Unfortunately, that would soon be the least of their worries as they uncovered a crime much more heinous than a simple traffic violation.
After advising Johnson to report to the district court in five days and telling her that they were going to tow her car, the woman told police, “It don’t matter, I won’t be here in five days,” and, “y’all going to see me on the news, y’all going to see on the news making my big debut.” She then went to the trunk of the car to retrieve items, including a maggot-filled clear trash bag with a strong “decomposition odor” and a black and yellow plastic tote, CNN reported. Nothing could have prepared the officers for what they were about to see.
After asking Johnson to open the clear trash bag, she eventually did, revealing a suitcase that she said contained blankets. Johnson then reportedly used a blanket to attempt to conceal the contents of the suitcase, but the officer told her to remove it. When she did, she exposed the decomposing body of a young child, police documents state. Sadly, it gets so much worse.
Although Johnson made a desperate attempt to flee the police at that point, she was quickly caught, and officers proceeded to open the plastic tote bag that was also found in the vehicle. In it, they discovered another plastic bag containing the remains of another child. It was later determined that the remains were those of two siblings — 7-year-old Joshlyn Johnson and her 5-year-old brother Larry O’Neil, Inside Edition reported.
According to police, the siblings were Johnson’s niece and nephew, and the woman had custody of the children since 2019 after Dachelle Johnson — Nicole Johnson’s sister and the mother of the two children — said she could no longer take care of them and asked her sister to look after them after moving to Maryland from Ohio in July 2019.
Dachelle said she tried to reach Nicole several times after dropping her children off and finally made contact in March 2021. Dachelle allegedly arranged to have her sister return her children, but Nicole never met her, and she had been unable to reach her sister or the children since. She allegedly hadn’t heard anything from or about Nicole and her kids until detectives notified her of the children’s deaths.
Nicole Michelle Johnson was arrested and charged with two counts each of first-degree felony child abuse, first-degree felony child abuse resulting in death; misdemeanor neglect of a minor; misdemeanor failure to report the death of a child; and the unauthorized burial of a body as a misdemeanor, court records show. She was ordered held on a no-bail status.
While speaking with detectives, the suspect alleges that she hit 7-year-old Joshlyn Johnson several times for “misbehaving” when they were staying at an inn off Pulaski Highway, causing the girl to fall and hit her head on the floor. Johnson said she then stowed the girl’s body in a suitcase and carried it around for many months before her brother also died.
Nicole Johnson also told detectives that her nephew had an injury and she’d seen blood on 5-year-old Larry O’Neil’s leg two months before police made their grisly discovery. According to Johnson, Larry then fell asleep in her car and never woke up after saying he was tired. Nicole Johnson admitted to placing Larry’s body in the plastic tote. At some point, Johnson later placed the boy’s body in the car with his sister’s remains, which she told investigators she had been driving around with the bodies in her car for over a year, People reported.
An autopsy found that Joshlyn weighed just 18 pounds while Larry weighed 21 pounds, according to a report by CBS Baltimore. The “unspeakable,” “atrocious,” and “harrowing” ordeal has, of course, left many shaken, according to Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt.
“The entire Baltimore County Police Department grieves with the community over the unspeakable deaths of two innocent children,” Chief Hyatt said, promising that the investigation into the atrocious crime will not stop until those responsible are brought to justice. “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,” Hyatt added. “I am grateful that the harrowing details of this case were thoroughly and quickly uncovered, resulting in an expeditious closure to this tragedy. 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.”
Dachelle Johnson expressed her grief in a since-deleted GoFundMe page, saying it was a mistake to trust her sister, who she says “just disappeared” while she was attempting to get her children back.
“It was supposed to just be a family helping family situation,” Dachelle explained. “I trusted her. I was mentally broken from losing the woman that raised me…I’ll never get to see my kids because [of] a mistake I made in trusting my sister. I wish I could take it back but I can’t,” she continued. “The mistake I made in trusting will always fall on me but I never could imagine this outcome.”
It is indeed a very sad situation when you can’t even trust your family to help care for your kids without having to worry about their untimely demise at the hands of a loved one. And, one can hardly comprehend the trauma experienced by officers who made the gruesome discovery. We shudder to imagine the final days these children faced and the nightmare they experienced before their passing. This is a sad reminder that there are monsters among us, and sometimes, the worst evil comes in the form of “family.”