Michigan mother charged with murder after her 3-year-old daughter was found dead in garbage bag

·2-min read
Justine Johnson, 22, has been charged with murder and first-degree child abuse over the death of her daughter (WJRT)
Justine Johnson, 22, has been charged with murder and first-degree child abuse over the death of her daughter (WJRT)

A mother in Iosco County, Michigan has been charged with murder after her three-year-old daughter was found dead in a garbage bag, police say.

Justine Johnson, 22, has been charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse. She has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Police say the toddler, Sutton Mosser, was found when Ms Johnson’s brother saw a foot protruding from a garbage bag at her house. He immediately called 911.

According to the local prosecutor, when police arrived they found Sutton’s body inside the bag, with multiple stab wounds.

Ms Johnson was not at home at the time. Police finally found her almost five hours later, wandering along some railroad tracks, according to a probable cause affidavit. When they asked her about her daughter’s death, she allegedly said she didn’t want to talk about it.

The young mother is now being held at Iosco County Jail without bond. She will face a probable cause hearing on 29 September.

Sutton’s grandmother, who lived with the mother and daughter, was devastated by the news.

“I broke down,” Alisa Johnson told WNEM. “I told them tell me it’s not true, that I needed to get to my baby, and this couldn’t be happening.”

The grandmother believes her daughter is innocent.

“Justine loved Sutton with all her heart,” she said. “She’d never let anybody hurt that baby.”

Iosco County Prosecutor James Bacarella says the case has shocked the community.

“Certainly, there’ve been homicides in the county previously,” Mr Bacarella told WNEM. “I don’t know of any that have involved a young child.”

Martin Gayeski, who owns a laundromat across the street from the home, told WJRT he couldn’t believe the news.

“She was a customer here. I knew who she was,” he said of Ms Johnson. “Shocked me because she didn’t seem to be that kind of a person.”

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