Michigan mother says SpongeBob told her to stab toddler to death during heroin withdrawal

Justine Johnson told an investigator she was hallucinating due to heroin withdrawal

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 07 February 2022 14:17 GMT
File: Justine Johnson has been charged with murder and first-degree child abuse over the death of her daughter
File: Justine Johnson has been charged with murder and first-degree child abuse over the death of her daughter (WJRT)
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A mother from Michigan, whose toddler was found dead in a trash bag, reportedly told an investigator that the cartoon character SpongeBob had ordered her to kill the child.

Justine Johnson, 22, had said she hallucinated the fictional character telling her to kill her three-year-old child or face death herself while experiencing heroin withdrawal.

Ms Johnson allegedly stabbed Sutton Mosser multiple times on 16 September 2021 before stuffing her body into a black trash bag. The child had turned three just two days before her death.

She has been charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse.

Ryan Eberline, an investigator with Child Protective Services, testified on Friday during a preliminary hearing before Iosco County District judge Christopher Martin, reported Michigan-based news outlet MLive.

The officer, who interviewed Ms Johnson on 1 October 2021, said she had then claimed she left her mother’s Oscoda Township house where she was living and passed out in a graveyard on the day the child was killed.

File: Justine Johnson said she hallucinated SpongeBob telling her to kill her three-year-old child or face death herself while experiencing heroin withdrawal
File: Justine Johnson said she hallucinated SpongeBob telling her to kill her three-year-old child or face death herself while experiencing heroin withdrawal (Getty Images)

“She told me that she didn’t remember the specifics of what happened at the time of what happened to Sutton, that she was experiencing hallucinations due to heroin withdrawal and not sleeping for approximately two weeks,” Ms Eberline told the court.

The investigator added: “She was getting hallucinations from the TV that had instructed her to take her daughter’s life or they would kill her. It was SpongeBob who was saying these things on the TV. If she didn’t do what she did to her daughter, they would kill her. She said she was afraid for her life and she had lost her mind.”

Ms Johnson’s brother Knesley Johnson Jr said there was nothing unusual about his sister before leaving for work on that fateful day. When he returned on 17 September 2021, he asked their younger brother about Ms Johnson and Sutton.

When the 17-year-old brother went to look for them, he saw a child’s foot sticking out of a bag. The teenager testified on Friday that when he ran into his sister in the bathroom on 16 September, she was “doing lines” of what he perceived to be cocaine, but wasn’t sure.

He added that Ms Johnson asked him to “mind your own f****** business” when asked about the child. He saw a foot protruding out of a trash bag and informed his older brother.

The police found Sutton’s body wrapped in bedding and placed in a garbage bag.

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