In North Dakota, a 37-year-old mother was apprehended this week under allegations of leaving her 4-year-old daughter unattended on the side of an interstate. The child, clad only in a cow-patterned onesie, was reportedly left alone by Ashley Marie Johnson, who now faces charges of child abandonment, child neglect, and reckless endangerment.
The incident came to light when a passerby noticed the young child walking alone near the 63rd Street overpass on Interstate 29. The concerned citizen contacted the Walsh County Police Department around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 3, reporting the unsettling sight. The child, when questioned, revealed that her mother had left her there.
The child also informed the good Samaritan that another young child was in the car when her mother asked her to step out, leaving her alone on the interstate. Responding officers from the Walsh County Sheriff’s Office and the North Dakota Highway Patrol attempted to gather more information from the child. Still, due to her young age, she was unable to provide specific details about her parents.
About an hour after the authorities picked up the child, a relative of Johnson contacted the Grafton Police Department. The relative revealed that Johnson had made a grave mistake by leaving her child on the side of the interstate, where she was alone for approximately 45 minutes. The relative also disclosed that earlier that day, Johnson and her two children were asked to leave the house where they had been residing.
Upon locating Johnson, she was interviewed by investigators. Court documents reveal that Johnson confessed to intentionally leaving her daughter on the side of the interstate, stating she wanted to ensure the safety of her other child. She also mentioned instructing the 4-year-old to stay away from the road.
Johnson appeared in court on Thursday before Walsh County District Court Judge Barbara Whelan. She was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation and risk assessment due to her recent actions. The court also mandated Johnson to seek addiction counseling. Currently, Johnson is being held in the Bottineau County Jail as she awaits a bond hearing.