The two little girls who lived in the small house with their mother and her boyfriend seemed happy, well kept and loved.
So neighbors were shocked to see them carried out to ambulances and rushed away to a hospital Tuesday evening.
They were even more shocked Thursday when their mother was charged with intentionally trying to drown them. The Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office alleges that Johnna Green held her 1-year-old and her 4-year-old daughters under water until they were unresponsive. Then she called 911.
The 23-year-old mother now faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder. She is in the Wyandotte County Jail under a $1 million bond awaiting her first appearance in court on Friday.
The two girls, identified by authorities only as J.T., the younger one, and J.G., the older one, remained in critical condition after two days in the intensive care unit.
“I can’t imagine it was anything except that she just snapped,” said next door neighbor Carrie Groves after learning Thursday that Green had been charged.
Groves said she knew Green to be a happy, sweet person who kept her daughters’ hair done and dressed them in cute outfits.
“They’re were happy, carefree little girls,” she said. “Well cared for. They were very loved.”
But in the last month or so, life’s routine seemed to change for the occupants of the rental house at 2925 S. 52nd St. in the Turner area of Kansas City, Kan.
J.T.’s father, who used to live there with Green and the girls and had been a stay-at-home dad, was gone. Green no longer left for work every morning.
Suddenly, the neighborhood erupted with police cars and ambulances just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, after Green called to report that her children needed help.
Erica and Michael Bedford, who live at the end of the street at the bottom of the hill, watched in amazement as emergency workers descended upon the house. The first officer bolted to the door. Within a minute, it seemed, the younger child was rushed out in the arms of an emergency responder.
“You could see the little baby’s arms were just hanging,” said Erica Bedford.
A few minutes later the older child was wheeled out on a gurney, paramedics working frantically on her.
Initially police dispatch confirmed one person was dead. But both girls were revived.
No one was at the home on Thursday. A pink bicycle and other toys were in the backyard. But neighbors said they had glimpses of the inside, while investigators were working, and it looked barren of furniture, as if the family was moving out.
Mary Self, a former next-door neighbor who has stayed in touch with the younger girl’s father, said Thursday that he was in shock about what happened and thought Green and the girls had vacated the house.
Jerome A. Gorman, Wyandotte County District Attorney, would not say Thursday whether Green had been cooperating with investigators but he said they had been talking to J.T.’s father. He could not say if the father of the older girl had been interviewed.
“We, law enforcement, have learned a lot about what went on in that house,” said Gorman, but he would not provide details.
The criminal charges allege that Green attempted to drown her daughters with premeditation.
Groves said her own children had played with the girls and Green had even baby sat for her on occasion.
“I felt confident enough that I left my children over there,” she said. “I never once feared for their safety.”
Bill Shanks, who lives directly across the street from the Green home, was trying Thursday to fathom what happened.
“How could anybody kill a couple of little kids, or try to kill them, unless it was depression?” he asked.