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Community gathers to remember 2 children found in aunt’s car during traffic stop

By Kim Dacey

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    ESSEX, Maryland (WBAL) — Many in the Essex community gathered Monday night to remember two young children whose bodies were found in the trunk of their aunt’s car.

Their story has rocked the community and the details have been hard to stomach.

While the courts handle the prosecution, those who knew came together don’t want their brief lives to end in vain.

Dozens of people came out to the vigil. They didn’t know 7-year-old Joshlyn Johnson and 5-year-old Larry O’Neil but felt compelled to come together in a show of grief and support.

“Even though we didn’t know them, I still felt in my heart that could’ve been my child, so I just wanted to come out and put some prayer in the situation,” said Terri Cooperbey, who attended the vigil.

“I just wanted to come out because the situation is just so terrible that we don’t know what the reasoning is behind it what would compel a person to do something like what happened to those poor children,” said Christine McCullum, who attended the vigil.

Police found the bodies of the children, decomposing, in the trunk of Nicole Johnson’s car during a routine traffic stop in Essex last week. An autopsy showed both kids were severely underweight.

“We stand together with all of you in grieving over the inconceivable deaths of these two innocent and precious children who left this world far too soon. This incident has shocked and distressed this entire community it has also absolutely devastated our police department,” Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said.

Johnson was arrested and charged with their deaths, but the news has rattled the community. Del. Ric Metzgar said he organized the vigil because so many of his constituents reached out, concerned.

“This has affected more people in our community than I’ve ever seen,” Metzgar said. “I felt like I wanted to pull people together and bring some hope and inspiration. And with so many questions still unanswered the community wanted to come together in a collective show of grief and solidarity for these two young lives.”

“It goes beyond the family; its everyone should be concerned. It’s a community thing, it’s a city thing, a state thing — it’s just everyone should be here to show their support,” said McCullum said.

Hyatt vowed that the case isn’t over for them they promise to bring justice for these children.

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