close
close

Were the mother and girl planning to place the blame on the child?

New details emerged Wednesday about the death of 8-year-old Martonio Wilder, including that his mother and her girlfriend, who is accused of murder, initially tried to falsely blame one of his brothers for the boy’s killing.

Lashanda Wilder, 32, and Johnna Lowe, 33, appeared Wednesday before Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Mike Thompson. Bail was set at $2 million for Wilder and $1.25 million for Lowe.

Wilder and Lowe have been charged with murder, child endangerment, aggravated assault, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse in connection with Martonio’s death.

Martonio was found in a garbage bag inside another Dumpster on June 28 in the attic of a home in the 1000 block of Omsead Avenue. Wilder had reported Martonio missing earlier that day, saying she hadn’t seen him since the night before.

Deputy Prosecutor Scott Sugarman said Lowe spoke to detectives the day after the arrest and admitted that she and Wilder “made up” the story about Martonio fleeing to cover up his death.

Sugarman said Lowe initially told detectives that one of Martonio’s brothers killed the boy with a rock, but later admitted that was a lie.

During questioning, detectives say Lowe allegedly told them she and Wilder beat Martonio with a crutch on June 26. Lowe said the two had also used “unusual punishments” in the past, including denying the boy food and keeping him in a coat closet.

Sugarman said there was evidence that Martonio was malnourished and had been the victim of physical abuse for some time.

According to Sugarman, Lowe also admitted that she and Wilder wrapped a rope around Martonio’s neck.

Video: Reaction of the family of a mother accused of murdering her 8-year-old son

The family of a Columbus mother accused of involvement in the death of an 8-year-old boy is speaking to the media for the first time.

AUDIO: ‘Where’s My Baby?’ Listen to 911 Call from Mother Accused of Murdering Son Martonio Wilder

An autopsy initially determined that Martonio died of deep compression injuries to his neck. A final autopsy report has not yet been released by the Franklin County Coroner’s Office.

Columbus police said after searching the surrounding area and the home, a cadaver dog was brought in to assist in the search. Police said Wilder became uncooperative and took her two children, leaving the home with Lowe.

The children were eventually found with one of Lowe’s relatives. Wilder and Lowe were arrested later that evening.

Lowe’s mother, Mary Johnson, also faces a charge of obstructing justice in connection with the case. Her first court appearance is scheduled for July 22.

Thompson set bail for Lowe at $1.25 million and ordered her, if released, to have no contact with Wilder or unsupervised contact with minors, including her two children.

Wilder’s bail was set at $2 million, and if she were released, similar conditions would apply.

Wilder, Lowe and Johnson are being held in the Franklin County Jail.

New records shed light on Wilder’s concerns about parenting

Franklin County Juvenile Court records show that a petition for temporary custody of Lashanda Wilder’s other two children, boys ages 9 and 3, was filed after her arrest.

The motion says Wilder had been associated with Franklin County Child Protective Services since May 2022. At the time, Wilder was reportedly living in a family shelter with her children and had been living there for approximately five months.

While waiting for Wilder to interact with Children Services, it was reported that she was “observed yelling and swearing at the older children and was also berating” one of the children, the motion said. The name of the child who was berated was redacted from the document.

Wilder also reportedly said she was “done” with one of her children and wanted to give up custody. The child’s name was again crossed out.

Children’s Services has previously said the agency is working to find the best place for Wilder’s children to live while ensuring their safety and well-being.

Family says boy’s death left ‘only bones’

Rachelle Knight, Lashanda Wilder’s aunt, and Seia Glover, Martonio’s cousin, said they will still learn details about Martonio’s death after Wednesday’s court hearing.

Knight said that when the family saw Martonio’s body, he did not feel like a well-developed child.

“There was nothing there, just bones,” she said, referring to its small size.

Knight said she wonders what Martonio was thinking when he was allegedly beaten by his mother and couldn’t get food.

“What was that kid thinking? That’s all I can think about,” Knight said.

She said she last saw Martonio in May, when he was 8. Knight said Lashanda Wilder called her to pick up Wilder and Lowe from a court hearing. When Knight arrived, she said the two women told her not to wish Martonio a happy birthday.

“She said, ‘Don’t tell him it’s his birthday; he doesn’t deserve it,'” Knight said. “They wanted me to buy her and her girlfriend something to eat. I bought all three of them something because I know if I brought Martonio something to eat for his birthday, he wouldn’t get it.”

[email protected]