Woman charged after daughter, 3, found dead in garbage bag

Posted at 12:20 PM, September 21, 2021 and last updated 10:58 PM, July 17, 2023

TAWAS CITY, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan woman has been charged with murder days after her 3-year-old daughter’s body was found with stab wounds inside a garbage bag, authorities said.

Justine Johnson, 22, was arraigned Monday in 81st District Court in Tawas City on one count each of felony murder and first-degree child abuse. She pleaded not guilty to both charges and is scheduled for a Sept. 28 probable cause conference.

This undated photo provided by the Iosco County Sheriff’s Office in Tawas City, Mich. shows Justine Johnson.  (Iosco County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Police were called last Friday to a residence in Iosco County in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula after a garbage bag with a human foot protruding from it was found at the home. Police said the bag contained the body of Johnson’s daughter, Sutton Mosser.

Iosco County Prosecutor James Bacarella said the girl had suffered multiple stab wounds.

The girl’s grandmother, Alisa Johnson, said she believes her daughter is innocent and would never have hurt her young child.

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

A message seeking comment on the charges was left Tuesday for Johnson’s court-appointed attorney.

According to a probable cause affidavit, one of Johnson’s brothers found the garbage bag with the child’s body inside. The affidavit states that the day before he had asked Johnson where her child was and she told him to mind his business, WJRT-TV reported.

Officers found Johnson hours after the discovery of her daughter’s body walking along railroad tracks. She told officers she did not want to talk about her child’s death, the affidavit states.