- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — About 300 mourners gathered yesterday for a memorial service to remember the little girl once known only as “Precious Doe.”

The child remained unidentified for four years after her headless body was found in April 2001 near an intersection in Kansas City. Days later, her head was found nearby, wrapped in a trash bag.

She was dubbed “Precious Doe” while authorities sought her identity and her killers. Police identified the child last week as Erica Michelle Marie Green, who was nearly 4, and charged her mother and her mother’s husband with murder.

“This experience brings us face to face with man’s destruction toward man, face to face with evil,” said the Rev. Wallace Hartsfield of the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. “But life cannot be dismembered, covered up and put in a trash bag. That’s why we’re here.”

The child’s mother, Michelle M. Johnson, 30, and her husband, Harrell Johnson, 25, face one count each of second-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child.

Police have said Mr. Johnson admitted that under the influence of alcohol and the hallucinogenic drug PCP, he became angry with Erica when she refused to go to bed, grabbed her, kicked her and threw her to the ground, leaving her unconscious. After she died, he said, he used hedge clippers to sever her head.

Mr. Hartsfield’s service was broken up several times with shouts and applause, and at one point everyone in the church shouted the child’s name in unison.

Among those attending was Betty Brown, who raised Erica from infancy until April 2001 when her mother took her back. She said she was touched by the people in Kansas City who came to know the girl only after her death.

“My legs are rickety talking about it,” Miss Brown said.

When asked what she would seek for the people charged in Erica’s death, Miss Brown said she was torn.

“We have to go with the system,” she said. “But if you want to know what’s in my heart, they need to get what Erica got.”

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