A 2-year-old boy died after he was tied to a chair as punishment, Florida authorities say. Now his mother is accused of murder.
Hillsborough County Deputies They said they responded to reports of a toddler in distress on May 19 and found the 2-year-old with multiple injuries. The child was pronounced dead at the scene.
The 24-year-old boy’s mother, Rebecca Louise Gussage-Johnston, told officers that he had punished the child for “acting badly” the day before by tying him to a booster seat, according to an arrest report, according to Law & Crime. Gussage-Johnston put his son in the seat on the night of May 18 and left him there until 11 am the next day.
Gussage-Johnston found the child overturned in the chair”suffer[ing] from seizures and shaking uncontrollably” on the morning of May 19, according to the arrest report, WKRG reported.
Deputies said Gussage-Johnston did not call for help despite having a working cell phone, according to a June 15 news release from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Instead, a concerned family member called 911 to report the boy’s injuries.
Gussage-Johnston was initially arrested May 19 and charged with aggravated child abuse resulting in great bodily harm and child neglect, the sheriff’s office said. After a coroner’s report revealed the girl’s manner of death was grossly negligent homicide, she was charged with first-degree murder while committing aggravated child abuse.
Agents said Gussage-Johnston remains in custody.
Hillsborough County is about 10 miles east of Tampa.