Police: Mom Left Kids in Self-Storage Unit

ByABC News
August 2, 2001, 7:19 AM

Aug. 2 -- The barking coming from a Casselberry, Fla., rental storage unit told passers-by that something was inside the unit, something alive.

But when management summoned animal control and cut the lock, they didn't just find a dog they found two children as well.

Police say the kids a 13-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl complained that they had no food and water, and had been living in the unit, just north of Orlando, for about two months.

Inside the 20-by-12 self-storage room, the children were surrounded by household items, including a bed, a refrigerator and a fan.

But officials say the unit had no running water, no toilet and no air conditioning. Temperatures inside may have approached 100 degrees during the day.

Mom Arrested; Says She Had No Choice

Police arrested the kids' mother, 30-year-old Adrianne Tijuana Johnson, who said she worked at an Orlando hospital and had no choice but to leave her kids in the rental unit while she went off to work.

"I had no other choice than to leave my children by themselves," she told reporters as she was led off by police.

However, The Associated Press reported that the hospital says she doesn't work there, and state records showed no professional license issued under her name.

Tough to Imagine

Jenny Tyler, who rents a space nearby, said she heard the barking from the unit and alerted management. But she was unprepared for what they found inside.

"I imagine those kids being locked up all day long," she said.

Officials say the dangers are not just limited to the sweltering Florida heat. The unit had a propane tank, a small gas stove and a barbecue lighter. If a fire broke out, the children would have been trapped.

Johnson is charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse and one count of animal cruelty. She reportedly paid about $137 per month for the unit. ABCNEWS affiliate WFTV in Orlando, Fla., contributed to this report.