Brownstown pair face neglect charges

The pretrial conferences for two 23-year-old Brownstown residents accused of neglect have been set for Sept. 26.

William Ray Johnson faces one count of neglect and Natasha Owens faces two counts of neglect after a recent incident in which Brownstown Police Chief Tom Hanner found Owens’ 2-year-old son and a 3-year-old girl they were taking care of outside their home on the west side of town.

Hanner was off-duty at the time of incident Friday night but notified Officer John Long about finding the children alone outside the home in the 100 block of South Depot Street, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Long went to the area and saw the children walking in the gravel lane of a business that sells animal feed, seed, chemicals and other supplies to farmers.

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Long said the children continued walking until they were less than 100 yards from a tank containing anhydrous ammonia. The lane is used for trucks, farm equipment and other vehicles entering and leaving the business.

approached the children, Long said they ran into the home, and he followed them inside and found two people asleep in a bedroom. The two later were identified as Owens and Johnson.

Owens woke up and came out to talk with Long. She told Long the boy was her son and the girl was a niece she had been watching for her sister, Long said.

She said the boy had been sleeping with her in the bedroom and the girl had been asleep on a couch before police found them outside.

Long said he then woke up Johnson, who put on shorts and came into the living room. Johnson, however, refused to cooperate and went back into the bedroom and laid down, Long said.

During a search of the house, Long said he found the back door was not equipped with child safety equipment, and there were dog feces by the back door, exposed electrical wiring hanging out of the wall attached to a light switch, mold on food on plates and a toilet that ran without stopping, according to court documents.

The cover also was off the electrical panel, and wires were hanging out of it, and one of the bedrooms did not have any floor covering or a mattress.

Long said while he was taking photos, Johnson came out of the bedroom and attempted to leave.

While trying to arrest Johnson, Long said he used his taser, but it didn’t work.

Johnson, however, was caught and placed in Long’s police car. County Reserve Officer Shane Collier then transported Johnson to the Jackson County Jail but had to stop his vehicle once after Johnson got out of control. Other officers responded to help get Johnson back under control, Long said.

Johnson, who faces additional charges of resisting law enforcement and disorderly conduct related to his arrest, had to be placed in a restraint chair at the jail.

The initial hearings with Jackson Circuit Judge Richard W. Poynter were held by video conferencing. Poynter set Johnson’s bond at $1,505 and Owens’ bond at $1,005.

Neglect is a Level 6 felony, punishable by six months to 2½ years in jail if convicted.