Justine Johnson Murders Daughter Because SpongeBob Told Her Too

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Justine Johnson is a mother from Michigan who would stab her three year old daughter to death because SpongeBob told her too. According to police reports Justine Johnson was coming off a long heroin withdrawal when she hallucinated that the popular character SpongeBob was telling her to murder her three year old daughter Sutton Mosser or else the character would murder her. So Justine Johnson would stab the three year old girl multiple times causing her death. Justine Johnson would tell investigators she attempting to kill herself but was unable to go through with it. Justine Johnson has been charged with murder and remains in a Michigan county jail

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Days after a 3-year-old girl’s body was found in a trash bag in northern Michigan, the child’s mother told an investigator she had hallucinated SpongeBob on her TV, commanding her to kill her daughter or face death herself.

Ryan Eberline, an investigator with Child Protective Services, testified to this during the Friday, Feb. 4, preliminary examination of Justine M. Johnson held before Iosco County District Judge Christopher P. Martin. Johnson, 22, is charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse related to the Sept. 16 death of her daughter, Sutton M. Mosser.

Mosser had turned 3 just two days before her death.

Called to testify by Iosco County Prosecutor James A. Bacarella, Eberline said she interviewed Johnson in jail on Oct. 1.

“What did she tell you?” Bacarella asked.

“The conversation was very pieced out,” Eberline said. “We would review things and go back to those things. Overall, the conversation, from what I could conclude, was that near the date of the 16th she had left her mother’s house walking and passed out in the graveyard.”

Johnson then walked to her own apartment, where she attempted to kill herself, Eberline said she told her. Bacarella asked Eberline if Johnson had discussed what happened to her daughter.

“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,” Eberline said. “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,” Eberline continued. “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.”

The hearing began with a sobbing and shackled Johnson being led into the courtroom. Johnson continued to cry intermittently throughout the hearing, frequently dabbing her face with Kleenex.

As the first witness of the day, Bacarella called Johnson’s brother Knesley Johnson Jr. to the stand. Knesley Johnson said that in the fall of 2021, he, his sister, parents, brother, and niece were living at a home in the 5400 block of Cedar Lake Road in Oscoda Township.

About 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 16, Knesley Johnson left for work, having a brief conversation with his sister beforehand. He said there was nothing unusual about her or his niece. When he left, Sutton was in her mother’s care, he said.

Knesley Johnson came home about 3:30 or 4 a.m. on Sept. 17. As he was taking off his shoes to get ready for bed, he asked his younger brother where their sister and Sutton were. The brother went to the back of their house and said he saw a human child’s foot sticking out of a bag, Knesley Johnson testified.

He said he did not know where his sister was at the time.

When Knesley Johnson was finished testifying, he walked by his seated sister on his way out of the courtroom.

“Love you, Knes,” Justine Johnson told him as passed.

“Yep,” he replied.

Justine Johnson’s 17-year-old brother — who is not being named due to his age—then testified he woke up about 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 and went to a bathroom, where he encountered his sister.

“I went into the bathroom and it looked like (Justine Johnson) was doing lines,” he said. “As soon as I went to walk in, she brushed it away. But I’m not sure.”

“Doing lines” refers to snorting drugs in a powdered form. The teen described the substance in question as a scoop of white powder that was on the bathroom’s vanity sink.

The teen said he asked his sister where Sutton was.

“She said, ‘Mind your own [expletive]ing business.’ But that’s like her normal response,” he testified.

The witness said he did not look for Sutton in the house. Shortly thereafter, he said Justine Johnson exited the house to approach a red vehicle that had stopped at a store across the street. She was not there long before returning to the house, he said.

The witness said he took a shower and once he finished, his sister was gone. He left shortly thereafter to go to the beach, returning about 10 p.m., he said.

Bacarella asked if Justine Johnson or Sutton were home when he returned.

“Nobody was home,” the witness said.

When Knesley Johnson arrived home a few hours later, the witness said he went to a back room of their house and found a garbage bag.

“There was like a foot sticking out of the bag,” he said. “I ran up and told Knesley, ‘There’s a foot in a bag.’ He didn’t believe me. He thought I was joking.”

The brothers together looked at the bag, then called an uncle, the 17-year-old testified.

Defense attorney Nathan R. Tyler asked the witness if it was unusual not to see Sutton around the house. The witness replied it was.

Tyler then asked the witness why he hadn’t looked for Sutton.

“I thought (Justine Johnson) knew where she was probably,” the witness replied.

As she did when Knesley Johnson finished testifying, Justine Johnson told her other brother she loved him as he walked by her.

“Uh huh,” her brother replied.

Next witness Oscoda Township Police Officer Gerald Soboleski testified he responded to the Johnson family home in the early hours of Sept. 17.

“The caller stated they had found a foot on their porch,” Soboleski said. Upon arrival, he parked at the end of the residence’s driveway, where he was greeted by Johnson’s brothers and an uncle.

“Knesley started telling me about how he came home from work on this day and looked throughout the house for his sister and niece and was unable to locate them,” the officer testified. “At that point, he said, ‘And then we found this,’ referring to what we later found was the human foot.”

Soboleski went to a back room of the house, where he found a circular blue tote with two garbage bags stocked on top. Protruding from one of the bags was a small child’s foot, Soboleski said.

“I felt the bottom of the child’s foot. It was cold to the touch, and EMS was called to the scene,” he said. Soboleski secured the scene and called a detective sergeant. A medical examiner also responded to scene, he said.

Shane Hill, a forensic scientist with the Michigan State Police Crime Lab in Bridgeport, said he and three fellow team members went to the crime scene on Sept. 17 to process it for evidence and take photographs. The investigators found several bloodstains on a hallway closet door, on living room couches, and on items in a bedroom.

They also confiscated three knives found in a bedroom, Hill said.

Inside the black trash bag within the blue tote, Sutton’s body was wrapped in a comforter. A pair of jeans were also in the bag, while a black sweatshirt was under the bag at the bottom of the tote, Hill said.

The jeans tested positive for blood, Hill said. Investigators were also alerted to a potential secondary site within an apartment complex, where numerous other items were seized that bore apparent blood stains, Hill said.

Bacarella asked Hill if he formed a conclusion as to where the killing occurred based on the blood evidence. Hill replied Sutton was more than likely killed inside the Johnson family home.

Sgt. Kenneth Binder, a latent print technician with the Michigan State Police Crime Lab, testified there were 13 finger- and palmprints recovered from the bag Sutton’s body was found in. All 13 prints were Justine Johnson’s, Binder said.

No other identifiable prints were recovered from the bag, Binder said. A bloody palmprint recovered from a wall in the house came from Sutton, Binder added.

Questioned by Tyler, Binder could not say how long Justine Johnson’s prints had been on the trash bag. There did not appear to be blood associated with any of Justine Johnson’s prints, Binder said.

Pathologist Dr. Jaya L. Sankaran, the Iosco County medical examiner, testified she went to the Cedar Lake Road scene and assisted in removing Sutton’s body from the bag and tote. She gave the body a preliminary examination and noted stab wounds to Sutton’s neck, chest, and abdomen, with a gaping wound exposing a portion of the small intestine, Sankaran said.

Oscoda Township Police Officer Danny Gallahar testified he had compiled a timeline of the comings-and-goings at the Johnson house on Sept. 16 based on nearby businesses’ surveillance camera footage.

At 3:23 p.m., Justine Johnson exited the Cedar Lake Road home, crossed the street to a former cleaning business, sat down and put her head in her hands, Gallahar said. Johnson was wearing a black sweatshirt and blue jeans as she paced around outside. Judging by the design on it, it appeared the sweatshirt was the same one later found in the blue tote with Sutton’s body, Gallahar said.

Justine Johnson returned to the home at 3:46 p.m., Gallahar said. At 3:55 p.m., she again exited the house and began walking southbound along the shoulder of Cedar Lake Road.

A vehicle appeared to drop off Justine Johnson at her home at 6:06 p.m., Gallahar said. Police later identified the driver of this vehicle, who said he had picked Johnson up in town. The driver later described Johnson’s demeanor as being in a confused and possibly drug-addled state, Gallahar said.

About an hour later, Justine Johnson again left the house, wearing different clothing than she had on before. At 7:24 p.m., she walked across the street and approached a maroon SUV, though she did not make contact with any occupants, the officer said.

Bacarella asked Gallaher if any of the video footage showed Sutton with her mother.

“At no time do you see Sutton in any video,” Gallaher replied.

Justine Johnson left the home again at 7:37 p.m. The video footage did not show anyone else entering or exiting the house until Johnson’s younger brother left to go to the beach.

When testimony concluded, Bacarella asked Judge Martin to bind Johnson’s case over to Circuit Court for trial. Martin granted the request and scheduled a pre-trial hearing for 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 28. In the meantime, Johnson is to remain jailed without bond.

My heart goes out to the family who’s here,” the judge said at the hearing’s end. “Good luck to you, Justine, as your case proceeds.”


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