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Tampa mom charged after leaving child in booster seat for 15 hours

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

A Tampa woman is facing a murder charge in connection with the death of her two-year-old son after she left him confined to a booster seat for 15 hours and neglected to get him help during a medical emergency.
The new charge was announced against 24-year-old Rebecca Gussage-Johnston on Thursday after the Medical Examiner’s Office concluded the child’s death was a homicide caused by severe neglect.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office investigators say they first began investigating the incident after they were contacted by the boy’s aunt on May 19th.
The aunt told authorities that she was sent to the mobile home by the child’s father to perform a wellness check on the child.
When the aunt got to the home, she found the child unresponsive in a bassinet underneath a blanket and contacted the police.
During the police interview, Gussage-Johnston confessed that she strapped the child in his booster seat for nearly 15 hours because “acting out” and screaming.
Gussage-Johnston said that she put the child in the booster seat around 8:00 p.m. on May 18 and by 12:00 a.m., the child was sleeping upright in the booster seat. Gussage-Johnston says later that morning she then noticed the seat was no longer upright and the child was lying on his side, still restrained in the seat.
At some point during the time the child was strapped in the booster seat, Gussage-Johnston says he began to have seizures and shake uncontrollably, and by 2 p.m., the child was unresponsive.
Authorities say Gussage-Johnston neglected to call 911 at any point though she had access to a phone.
Officials also reported that the child had injuries on several parts of his body including to his head, thigh, and his extremities.
In addition to the injuries, authorities say the child was covered in vomit and feces when he was found.
The boy’s father told investigators that he purchased the RV for Gussage-Johnston his son, and another child to live in but did not live with them and had not seen the child for at least six or seven months before his death.
Gussage-Johnston has been charged with first-degree murder while engaged in child abuse, aggravated child abuse resulting in great bodily harm, and child neglect.
She is being held without bail Friday at the Falkenburg Road Jail.