Futile search

Search for missing Florida City child ends in heartbreak

Mariah Johnson
Mariah Johnson


A frantic search for a missing Florida City girl ended in tragedy Saturday afternoon when the child turned up dead.

Mariah Neveah Johnson was found in a drainage hole just south of Southwest 344th Street (Palm Drive) around Ninth Avenue, adjacent to a boarded-up apartment building.

The child’s mother, posting under the name Pretty Neka, declared on her Facebook page that Mariah drowned in the hole.

Police did not officially divulge the name of the child, her age, or the cause of death. The Miami-Dade police homicide unit was in charge.

The child was reported missing early in the afternoon, prompting a search by residents and Florida City police in the neighborhood of small homes and small, motel-like apartment buildings. The hole where she reportedly was found was a block or so away from where she lived.

Karen Hilton, a University of Miami Medical Center quality manager, was in a beauty supply store near the scene of the search when she heard screaming outside.

“Because I’m in the healthcare profession, I ran out of the store to see what I could do,” Hilton said. “The closer I got, I saw them working on the baby on the ground. The police officer was doing chest compressions and was doing CPR here. I told the officer, ‘You’re tired, let me take over.’ ”

Hilton, the mother of an 11-year-old, left after Miami-Dade Fire Rescue took Mariah to Homestead Hospital. She returned later because she couldn’t stop wondering if Mariah had survived, although she doubted the child had. Stunned neighbors and relatives milled about, including one relative who described Mariah as a “joyful” child.

“When I opened her eyes, her pupils were affixed and her body was cold, even when I was trying to resuscitate her, her body was cold,” Hilton said.

Mariah’s mother’s identified herself on her Facebook page as a Homestead High graduate who attended Miami Dade College. Saturday afternoon, she posted this: “R.i.p MARIAH NEVEAH JOHNSON mommy loves yu and always keep yu in my heart.”

On Saturday evening, a crew worked to fill in the hole.

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