Fort Lupton mom said drowned 13-month-old was ‘independent’

By Steve Smith
Posted 1/19/11

GREELEY – A Fort Lupton mother told detectives she left her 13-month-old son in a bathtub because she “didn’t want him to be known as a mama’s boy.”

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Fort Lupton mom said drowned 13-month-old was ‘independent’


GREELEY – A Fort Lupton mother told detectives she left her 13-month-old son in a bathtub because she “didn’t want him to be known as a mama’s boy.”

    Her son, Joseph Johnson, drowned Sept. 20.
    Shannon Johnson is due in Weld County Court at 9:30 a.m., Jan. 31, for a bond reduction hearing. She remained in the Weld County Jail on a $100,000 bond late last week. She faces a felony charge of child abuse resulting in death.
    An arrest affidavit said Johnson began leaving her son alone when “he really wanted to be left alone; he was a very independent baby.”
    “She also said she knew what it was like to be told no,” the warrant said. “She didn’t want her baby to be told no and didn’t want him to be known as a mama’s boy.”
    Johnson’s mother, Betty, talked with her about leaving the child alone in the tub Sept. 17. Shannon Johnson couldn’t remember such a discussion, according to the warrant. Betty Johnson told her daughter she was worried about the practice because of seizures and the boy’s balance. Shannon told her mother she wouldn’t do it any more.
    On the day of the drowning, Shannon Johnson and her son got up and ate breakfast around 8:30 a.m., the affidavit said. The toddler didn’t finish but did play on the floor for a few minutes before his bath. Shannon Johnson told detectives the water level may have been a little higher than usual. She put her son in the tub between 8:35 and 8:45 a.m.
    Johnson’s Facebook account said she made “a perfect dish” in a Facebook café about the time her son was in the tub. The next posting was late in the evening, around 6 p.m. Her next update was after 8 p.m., announcing that her son died. She repeated the post early the next morning.
    In the four months leading up to her arrest and first court appearance, her Facebook postings were frequent – sometimes separated by just a few seconds. They alternated between happy and sad, between normal activities for a Facebook user and angry.
    Her page was still active late last week, even though she cannot access it from her cell, according to Weld County Undersheriff Margie Martinez. Her horoscope was on her page. So were messages of support from a friend.
    The affidavit said Johnson admitted she was on Facebook playing a game called Café World, checking on friends’ status and sharing videos in the living room while her son was in the bathtub. The affidavit said in a 10-minute period, he was playing and she checked on him once.
    Shannon Johnson said three more minutes passed and she didn’t hear her son playing. The affidavit said Johnson went to check on him and saw him sideways with his face in the water. The affidavit said Johnson grabbed him out of the water face down and she heard some gurgling.
    The affidavit said a detective asked Johnson if she understood there would be some people who wouldn’t understand why she would leave a young child in the bathtub by himself.
    “The Defendant said ‘yes’ because she doesn’t understand why she did it,” the affidavit said. “It was so stupid.”


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