Toddler's death investigated, mourned
FLORIDA CITY, Fla. (WSVN) -- The case of a 1-year-old girl who died shortly after she was found unresponsive near her South Florida home Saturday remains a mystery police are still trying to solve and a tragedy to which her loved ones are seeking closure.
Family and friends came by and placed stuffed animals, balloons and candles in front of the ditch where Mariah Johnson was found around 2 p.m., creating a makeshift memorial for the girl who, according to those who knew her, was always laughing.
"Every time I close my eyes, her face is like, right there," said Nika Robinson, the toddler's mother. "I haven't even been in my house because all her stuff is there." Johnson, Robinson's only daughter, would have turned 2 in November.
The infant went missing around noon Saturday. Johnson's great-grandmother recalled the last time she saw her great-granddaughter alive. "And the last thing she said to me was, 'I love you, Grandma,' and gave me a big kiss, and I hugged her and she left," said Geanie Dixon.
Robinson said she cannot understand how someone would want to harm her daughter. "She didn't deserve this; she didn't at all," she said.
Johnson was last seen with her mother's boyfriend. "And he went home and said she was missing," said Eddie Dixon, the victim's grandfather. "They called the police, and the helicopter, they came looking for two hours for her. They couldn't find her."
Johnson was found about two hours later in a ditch, near her home off of Palm Drive and Southwest Ninth Avenue in Florida City. "They were trying to resuscitate her and everything, so they laid her there on the ground," said neighbor Tasha Gates. "It was devastating. I was crying, and we were praying really hard."
The toddler was taken to Homestead Hospital, where she later died.
What happened during that two-hour window remains unknown. "Right now, it's just the investigation, and the only thing we can do is wait until the autopsy comes back, so they know what caused her death," said Robinson.
As Robinson and the rest of Johnson's family wait for investigators to piece together what set in motion this tragic chain of events, she said she is praying for answers. "I just want justice for whoever did this, cause my baby was a happy, lovable baby," she said, "She didn't deserve this."
No arrests have been made. Police continue investigating. "Right now, it's just under investigation," said the mother, "and the only thing they can do is just wait until the autopsy comes back... until we know what caused her death."
Police continue to call this a death investigation while they await the results of an autopsy. Toxicology reports also remain pending. Until the results of these tests, investigators are not calling the child's death suspicious.
The Department of Children and Families said they have a history with the family but would not elaborate until the status of the investigation changes.
If you have any information on Mariah Johnson's death, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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