Christine Ferretti / The Detroit News
Warren — Through tears, a couple accused of leaving their toddler at a Caesarland restaurant after his birthday party insisted Monday that the ordeal is a misunderstanding and they’ll do whatever it takes to get the boy back.
Talisha Darlene Johnson, 33, and Dion Musekela Johnson, 41, were arraigned by video in 37th District Court on charges of second-degree child abuse. The felony offense carries a penalty of up to four years in prison.
Both parents broke down in tears after they were released from Warren police headquarters on $15,000 personal recognizance bond.
“I’ll do anything to get my baby back,” Talisha Johnson sobbed. “I love my baby. I just want him home.”
Police allege the pair left their 3-year-old son, Dion Jr., at the Chuck E. Cheese-style restaurant on Hoover on March 13. Caesarland staffers spotted the boy around 9 p.m. and contacted Warren police. The child was placed in foster care by Child Protective Services.
Relatives said they did not discover the boy was missing until Monday. That’s when Talisha Johnson called Caesarland and Dion Johnson went to the restaurant.
The family said there was a miscommunication between the mother, father and great-grandmother about who had the child. Police say the adults have each pointed fingers at the other.
The parents reside in different apartments at the same Warren complex. The great-grandmother and primary caregiver, Mable Robinson, lives in Detroit. Authorities said the child resides with Robinson five days a week and returns to his parents on the weekends.
Warren Police Detective John Pierce said Monday that investigators now believe the family knew as early as the night of the party the boy wasn’t accounted for.
“It did come up Saturday night,” Pierce said, adding relatives, including Robinson, went to Talisha Johnson’s apartment that evening without the child.
“All indications are the people responsible for the child dropped the ball.”
Originally, when questioned March 15, the couple told investigators they realized their son was missing Sunday. Before that, police said, they had assumed Robinson took him home because she had brought him to the party. Even so, police said, the couple waited nearly two days to contact Caesarland. The family never called police.
The boy is in foster care. A hearing is expected to determine if he is a ward of the court or to be returned to his parents.
“I want to clear my name, and I want my son back,” Dion Johnson said as he left Warren police headquarters.