ESSEX, Md. — Dozens of people attended a prayer vigil to remember two children who were found dead last week in Essex.
The bodies of Joshlyn Johnson, 7, and Larry O’Neal, 5, were discovered in the trunk of their aunt’s car during a traffic stop.
According to charging documents, Nicole Johnson, who is their aunt, drove around with Joshlyn’s body for over a year and both of them for two months.
The children were also severely malnourished.
Johnson was arrested and is facing multiple charges, including two counts of child abuse resulting in death.
“I can’t even imagine what these children went through,” said Essex resident Charlene Smith.
The tragedy has rocked the community of Essex as the vigil looked to give them space to heal.
“Regardless of whether you know them or not, you can’t comprehend how someone can look at such an innocent face and have such a coldness towards them to where they would hurt them to that level,” Smith said.
Many of the people in attendance continue to wonder how their abuse and disappearance went unnoticed.
“Somebody had to smell something,” said Heaven Bishop. “Somebody had to realize she had two kids and then one disappeared and then the other disappeared.”
The heartbreaking discovery has also become a reminder of why it’s important to look out for one another.
“Let’s keep caring for each other,” said Ed Michael, senior pastor at Eastern Assembly of God. “Keep an eye out in a caring way for our neighbor.”