Police call toddler’s death ‘suspicious’

SURREY – A Surrey couple is protesting their innocence as homicide detectives investigate the "suspicious death" of their three-year-old daughter Charlee Johanson.


"This feels like a complete nightmare that I can’t wake up from," the girl’s mother, Jennifer Johanson, told GlobalBC on Sunday.


Charlee’s stepfather, Cody Graham, told Global the girl fell last Tuesday from a laundry bin she was standing on in the bathroom of their Surrey basement suite.


He said she seemed fine until Wednesday, when they called for an ambulance after she had a seizure.


The girl died on Saturday.


"It’s hard; it’s really hard to be sitting here not accused, but being thought of as a child killer," Graham said.


"Neither of us would ever, ever, ever touch Charlee," he said.


The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team issued a press release Saturday evening saying it was looking into the "suspicious death of a three-year-old Surrey child."


Sgt. Stephanie Ashton, spokeswoman for IHIT, said that "any time we investigate a suspicious death we treat it very seriously. We ask that the public keep in mind a child has died and her family is now dealing with that death."


No charge had been laid by the Now’s press time.


IHIT is asking anyone with information to contact the IHIT tip line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448).


Meanwhile, Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet said Monday he could not find any record of police having been called to the couple’s residence prior to this IHIT investigation.


In an unrelated matter, Jennifer Johanson was in the headlines in May 2013 after a racially-fueled spat between herself and a South Asian woman who had been protesting outside the Cloverdale Rodeo was posted on You Tube and went viral, leading to a Surrey RCMP investigation, front page newspaper stories and substantial television news coverage. In the end, no charges were laid.