Toddler found in ditch remembered in vigil
FLORIDA CITY, Fla. (WSVN) -- Family and friends of 1-year-old Mariah Johnson were torn between placing blame and paying tribute when they came together Monday night for a candlelight vigil in front of the now-covered pit where the toddler's nearly lifeless body was found two days ago.
The gathering sang "Amazing Grace" at the growing makeshift memorial full of stuffed animals, balloons and candles placed there in remembrance of the girl who, according to those who knew her, was always laughing.
"Her favorite word was 'no,'" said Shaneka Robinson, Johnson's mother. "'No, no, no, no, no.' Everything I told her to do was 'no.'"
Robinson and her brother stood silently as they stared at the spot, located off of Palm Drive and Southwest Ninth Avenue in Florida City, where the 1-year-old was discovered two hours after she was reported missing. "I cried, I cried my heart out," said Robinson.
Willie Wilson, Robinson's boyfriend, was the last person to see Johnson alive. Earlier Monday, he refused to comment on the case. "I really don't want to talk about it because I'm sad. I'm so sad," he told a 7News reporter. "I'm so sad. I don't want to talk."
Reporter: "What happened?"
Willie Wilson: "I don't want to talk."
Reporter: "Can you tell me about, like, the last time you spent with her?"
Willie Wilson: "No, I don't want to even talk. I don't want to talk or anything, cause I'm so disappointed. Everybody's talking crazy, like I did that."
Robinson said Wilson was watching Johnson Saturday and walked her and her brother to a nearby gas station.
The victim's cousin, however, thinks the girl's mother and her boyfriend are not being forthcoming. "I think they beat that baby," said Don Dollars. "Because they're cruel and nasty like that."
Blame for the infant's death and any thoughts of arrest were put aside as Johnson's family, including children not much older than she was, and other friends paused to pray for answers.
Miami-Dade Police are still calling Johnson's case a death investigation pending the outcome of an autopsy and toxicology report. "When the autopsy and stuff come back in full detail, the truth will come out, it will," said Robinson.
The Department of Children and Families said they have a file 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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