TOWSON, Md. — Charging documents reveal the heartbreaking details of two young children whose bodies were found inside their aunt's car.
The horrific tragedy was uncovered Wednesday around 11pm, when a Baltimore County Police officer pulled a car over for speeding on Eastern Boulevard at Wagners Lane, in Essex.
Police say the vehicle was uninsured, unregistered, and had a fake temporary West Virginia tag attached to it.
The driver, 33-year-old Nicole Michelle Johnson, also had no license.
Initially officers only planned to tow the car and issue citations.
But then Johnson made some disturbing comments when the officer notified her of potential court dates.
"It don't matter, I won't be here in five days," Johnson reportedly told the officer. "Y'all going to see me on the news, y'all going to see on the news making my big debut."
The officer told Johnson to take anything she may need from the car before it was towed.
That's when he reported smelling a strong odor, immediately believing something was dead in the car.
Johnson pulled a plastic tote and trash bag from the trunk.
Police say the trash bag contained maggots and a suitcase. Johnson tried telling the officer it was just dirty blankets from her living out of the car.
The officer wasn't convinced and ordered Johnson to open the suitcase.
Inside, was the decomposing body of 7-year-old Joshlyn Marie James Johnson. An autopsy revealed Joshlyn had been extremely malnourished and weighed only 18 pounds.
Nicole made an unsuccessful attempt to runaway from the scene.
Officers then made a second gruesome discovery. Stuffed inside the plastic tote was a bag with the decomposed body of Joshlyn's 5-year-old brother, Larry Oneal. He weighed just 21 pounds.
During an interview with detectives, Nicole said she was the kids aunt.
Nicole said her sister, Dachelle, had left the children with her because she was unable to care for them, but at first denied ever knowing they were in the trunk, claiming the smell could've been a rat in the engine.
Later, Nicole told the story of what supposedly really happened.
In May 2020, she and the children stayed at the Regal Inn on Pulaski Highway.
One night while Larry was sleeping, Nicole got angry and hit Joshlyn several times for misbehaving and allegedly stealing her things.
This caused Joshlyn to fall and hit her head on the floor.
Afterwards, Nicole admitted to putting Joshlyn in a suitcase and keeping it in the car for several months.
Nicole says Larry died about two months ago when he went to sleep in the back of the car, and never woke up. At the time of his death, Nicole recalled a cut to his leg but couldn't provide more information.
Nicole said she put Larry's body in a trash bag and kept it next to his sister's in the trunk.
Police say at no time did Nicole call 911 or reach out to paramedics or law enforcement.
Investigators spoke with the kids mother, Dachelle, who confirmed leaving the children with her sister Nicole, when she moved to Maryland from Ohio in July of 2019.
According to Dachelle, it wasn't until March of 2021 when she finally was able to get in touch with Nicole.
Arrangements had apparently been made for Dachelle to take her children back, but she again never heard back from Nicole.
“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," Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said. "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.”
The official cause of death for both children remains under investigation.
Johnson is currently being held without bail on a slew of charges including first degree child abuse resulting in death. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 27.
A GoFundMe had originally been set up by the family, but a message on the page requested no more donations due to someone agreeing to handle funeral costs free of charge.
Starting at 7pm on August 2, a vigil for both children will be held at the park and ride on Eastern Boulevard at Wagners Lane.