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Charges against Leland mother dropped after kids drown

photo courtesy of leland police department

Update (3/21/19):

Criminal charges have been dropped for 25 year-old Jenea Payne, who was originally charged with two counts of manslaughter-culpable negligence and one count of child neglect.

The charges were dismissed by a Washington County Justice Court Judge.

Payne and Rasheed Johnson were able to meet the young men and first responders who rescued her daughter, two year-old Raelynn Johnson, from the vehicle in Deer Creek.

Update (3/11/2019):

Jenea Payne has now been charged with two counts of manslaughter-culpable negligence and one count of child neglect. She received an initial appearance today and was released on her own bond.


Original report (3/11/2019):

On Saturday, around 5:45 p.m., the Leland Police Department was called in reference to a white Nissan Pathfinder that was floating in Deer Creek around the 100 block of N. Main St. with three kids trapped inside the vehicle.

Upon the arrival of the police department, the Leland Fire Chief Bobby Johnson and several others had already located the vehicle with the three kids trapped inside. The individuals jumped into the creek and attempted to burst the windows out of the vehicle in order to get the kids out. As the vehicle floated down the creek, these individuals ended up only being able to rescue one of the three kids before having to swim to safety. The vehicle then drifted further down and into the creek. Leland Volunteer Firefighters probed the creek attempting to find the vehicle when a rescue dive team arrived and entered the water. The vehicle was found at 8:00 p.m.

25 year-old Jenea Monique Payne, who was identified as the mother of the three kids, stated that she left them in the vehicle as she walked into Stop-N-Shop at 105 N. Main St. She stated that as she came out of the store her vehicle was gone and had rolled into the creek and her three kids were locked inside.

Officials were able to rescue her daughter, two year-old Raelynn Johnson, but they were unable to save her two sons, four year-old Steve Smith and one year-old Rasheed Johnson Jr.

When the vehicle was found, it was pulled from the water by Venutti Towing with two of the kids still inside. The two kids were pronounced dead on the scene at 8:37 p.m. by Washington County Coroner, Melton Johnson.

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