3 kids living without food, running water at Mesa home; parents arrested

Brandon Edwards and Katrina Johnson were both booked on several counts of child abuse.
Brandon Edwards and Katrina Johnson were both booked on several counts of child abuse.(MCSO)
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 7:18 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 20, 2022 at 11:50 AM MST
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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Mesa couple was taken into custody after officers said they found their three kids living without food, running water and not going to school. Police arrested Katrina Johnson and Brandon Edwards on Monday morning.

On Feb. 20, Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies checked out a home near 96th Street and Broadway Road, just east of Ellsworth Road, after a caller told police three young girls were going to neighbors’ houses asking for food and water. Court documents say deputies went inside and saw trash throughout the home and little food. They also found a toilet filled with feces and no running water inside.

Investigators interviewed Johnson, and she claimed the couple had moved the kids into the home because “they had no other options.” Court paperwork says Johnson also told detectives she fed her kids, enrolled them in online school, and took them to another family member’s house to bathe. She reportedly admitted the current living conditions were neglectful and said fines from the City of Mesa turned the water off. Edwards echoed the statements about the water and told detectives it had been shut off for the past few weeks. However, court documents say Edwards told investigators Johnson homeschooled the kids.

Detectives decided to talk to the three girls about their current living conditions. Two girls told investigators they had food to eat and did school online, but the third child told a different story. According to court paperwork, the girl said she’s often hungry because her parents can’t afford to buy food and said her older sister would go to the neighbor’s houses for food and water.

Through the investigation, detectives found out two of the children had been enrolled in school but, because of excessive absences, were dropped. The third child was never enrolled in school. Johnson was interviewed a second time and confronted about her kid’s school enrollment. According to court paperwork, Johnson admitted “bad choices and even pure laziness” led to the kids not attending school. She reportedly told investigators she received money from her mother but would use it to buy drugs instead of food for the kids.

Johnson and Edwards were both booked on several counts of child abuse.