ESSEX, Md. (WJZ) -- A Baltimore woman faces several charges, including two counts of child abuse resulting in death, after the decomposing remains of her young niece and nephew were found in the trunk of her car during a late Wednesday traffic stop in Essex.
Baltimore County police say an officer pulled Nicole Johnson over late Wednesday night in Essex. According to police, when the officer told the 33-year-old the car had to be towed because the tags were fake, the officer "detected the unmistakable odor of decomposition."
At one point, the officer even saw maggots inside a bag.
According to the police department, after repeated requests from the officer, Johnson removed a blanket in the trunk to expose the decomposing remains of one child. During a search, officers found a tied-up plastic bag that contained the decomposing body of the second child.
Police said those kids were her 7-year-old niece, Joshlyn Johnson and her five-year-old nephew, Larry O'Neal.
Johnson told police she was taking care of the kids because their mother wasn't able to, but the mom told police she'd tried to get her kids back. She said she arranged in March to have her children returned to her but Johnson never showed.
According to the documents, the little girl may have been dead since last year.
The aunt told police that in May of 2020, when they were staying at an inn off Pulaski Highway, she hit the little girl and the child fell and hit her head.
Police said Johnson described putting her niece's body in a suitcase and carrying her remains around in her car for months. She also claimed her nephew had an injury about two months ago and never woke up, so she put his body in a plastic tote next to her sister.
According to the court documents, when the autopsy was done the 7-year-old girl weighed 18 pounds and the five year-old boy weighed 21 pounds. The official cause of death has not been determined.
Johnson remains held without bond.
"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."
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