23-year-old Amber Johnson and her husband, 30-year-old James Johnson III of Dearborn, have both been charged with murder and child abuse for the death of their 2-year-old daughter, Monika Rose Johnson, who drowned in a neighbor’s pool.
Police records reveal that while Amber and James slept at home, their two children, Monika and her 3-year-old brother, scaled a chain link fence in order to gain access to their neighbor’s swimming pool. The children were soon discovered by the homeowner who pulled Monika from the pool and performed CPR, but by that time she was already unresponsive. Monika was initially hospitalized in critical condition, but passed away on Saturday. Her death has been labelled an accidental drowning.
Since then, Amber and James have been charged with second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and second degree child abuse. According to Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad, there is a history of parenting concerns for this family, and this is not the first time that authorities have been contacted regarding the safety of Monika and her brother. Records show that about a week before the drowning incident, neighbors had called police because the children were seen wandering the neighborhood unsupervised.
In a statement released by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s Office, she referred to Monika’s death “completely preventable,” and said that “The alleged actions and inactions of the defendants in this case defy common sense.” This sentiment was echoed by Chief Hadad at the arraignment, when he called the incident “tragic for our entire community.” He went on to also state that when something like this happens, “we have to hold people accountable.”
Monika’s 3-year-old brother and an infant who was at home at the time of the incident, have been placed with relatives by Child Protective Services. At the arraignment, Dearborn police Cpl. Emilee Williams explained to the court the family is currently involved in a misdemeanor case stemming from an incident that took place a week before. According to Williams testimony, the couple is a danger to their remaining children, and that parental rights have already been terminated.
Court records from the arraignment reveal that Amber is listed as being a dancer at a nightclub, while James s unemployed but works odd jobs here and there to bring in additional income. The couple were recently given notice that they were being evicted from their home, which prompted the Judge to label them as flight risks. After entering not guilty pleas on their behalves, 19th District Judge Sam Salamey set bond at $1 million cash or surety.