ESSEX, Md. (WJZ) — A prayer vigil will be held Monday for the two children found dead in the trunk of a car in Essex late Wednesday night.

The vigil will be at 7 p.m. at the Essex Park and Ride, 22 Eastern Blvd.

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Del. Ric Metzgar, who represents the area and is the vigil’s organizer, said in a statement he hopes the vigil brings healing to the community. He said all are welcome to attend.

Joshlyn Johnson, 7, and her brother Larry O’Neal, 5, were found dead in the trunk of a car after Baltimore County Police pulled over the driver, Nicole M. Johnson, during a traffic stop, Baltimore County Police said.

Johnson, 33, of Baltimore, is the children’s aunt. She faces several charges, including two counts of child abuse resulting in death, police said.

Johnson told police she was taking care of the kids because their mother wasn’t able to, but the mom told police she’d tried to get her kids back. She said she arranged in March to have her children returned to her but Johnson never showed.

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According to the documents, the little girl may have been dead since last year.

The aunt told police that in May of 2020, when they were staying at an inn off Pulaski Highway, she hit the little girl and the child fell and hit her head.

Police said Johnson described putting her niece’s body in a suitcase and carrying her remains around in her car for months. She also claimed her nephew had an injury about two months ago and never woke up, so she put his body in a plastic tote next to her sister.

According to the court documents, when the autopsy was done the 7-year-old girl weighed 18 pounds and the 5-year-old boy weighed 21 pounds. The official cause of death has not been determined.

Johnson remains held without bond.

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Note: This article was originally posted Sunday, August 1. 

CBS Baltimore Staff