Mother Charged With Murder After Confining Toddler Son To Booster Seat For 15 Hours As Punishment, Reports Say She Watched Him ‘Perish’

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

A Florida mother, Rebecca Gussage-Johnston, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder while engaged in aggravated child abuse after restricting her 2-year-old son to a booster seat for fifteen hours in an attempt to punish him for

“acting out,”

reports FOX

A criminal report says,

“The victim was unlawfully caged/restrained in a table booster seat for approximately fifteen hours before the defendant released him… The defendant failed to supervise and provide the medical services needed to properly render aid to the victim.”

Prosecutors claim that on May 18, 2023, the 24-year-old mother confessed to confining the toddler to the seat at the kitchen table in an effort to punish him. The woman said the child was

“acting out”

and screaming. Officials say although her son later became unresponsive and she had access to a phone, Gussage-Johnston, didn’t contact medical support for almost 24 hours. A relative later contacted HCSO to investigate. 

The affidavit states that officials went to a

“white/tan 1992 mobile RV parked in a truck lot located in Thonotosassa, Florida.”

When they arrived, they discovered the young boy in terrible condition as he was in a bassinet under a blanket. 

“Upon arrival, Deputies encountered the victim to be deceased and suffering from trauma to [his] head, a wound to [his] right thigh, and bruising throughout [his] extremity area,”

said the affidavit. 

The toddler was discovered drenched in vomit and feces. The woman also admitted to observing her toddler die. The affidavit added,

“The defendant admitted to watching the victim suffer from seizures and shaking uncontrollably… The defendant described having watched the victim take their last breath and perish in her arms.”

Sheriff Chad Chronister said,

“The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has unrelenting fervor in our pursuit of justice for innocent children hurt by criminals… It is truly heart-wrenching to witness such senseless and preventable acts of violence targeting our youth. The tenacity of our detectives has allowed us to ensure this woman faces the consequences of her disgusting actions.”

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