Aiken, SC (WJBF) – An Aiken man is accused of beating his nieces while being intoxicated.
A 911 call was phoned in from a young female at 417 Plunkett Avenue NW in Aiken with the girl saying that her uncle was beating her and her sisters.
When an Aiken Department of Public Safety (ADPS) officer arrived, he could hear screaming coming from the home. The officer “knocked loudly on the door” and a man, later identified as 37-year-old Bobby Letrall Johnson, came to the door. Johnson was asked to come out of the house and speak with officer. Another officer went inside the home to check on the children.
Johnson told an officer that he was called to his house by a friend who told him his smoke detectors were activated in his house and he better get home. Johnson added that he came home and found the house smoky because his nieces
almost “burned his house down”. According to the incident report, he was unable to explain how, but kept repeating that his nieces tried to burn the house down. The officer noticed that Johnson was intoxicated and had a strong odor of alcohol coming from him.
A warrant check was performed on Johnson and it showed that he had outstanding warrants from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office. Johnson was then placed into custody and another officer arrived and took charge of Johnson.
The officer who had entered the home came back to the door and told the other officer to come into the home. Before entering, the children’s grandmother, 57-year-old Connie Johnson, arrived. Officers asked her to wait by the front door.
The officer s took photos and noted that if appeared that Johnson “had whipped the children in a fit of rage with a belt and with an extension cord, in visible welts to their bodies. The officers talked to the five sisters, who ranged in age from 3-years-old to 13-years-old. According to the report, they sisters “were all crying and hiding under a blanket. The girls told officers what happened and the officers learned that Johnson had had whipped 3 of the young girls with a belt, and no one was whipped with the extension cord.
An 11-year-old sister told officers her her uncle came home drunk and upset because of all of the smoke in the house. An officer asked the girls how they knew he was drunk and they said “it is the way he acts funny and coughs when he has been drinking and he gets angry quick.”
The 11-year-old told officers Johnson “asked all of the girls what happened, and before they could answer, he took off his belt and began swinging it at them.” The girl said she was the first to get hit. She told officers he hit her in the back of her left leg with the first swing, “causing a large welt that looked like the size of the belt and it even had the impression of hole from the belt in her left calf.” She told officers he tried to hit her a second time but she grabbed the belt, preventing him from hitting her again. She stated she let go and ran to the bedroom.
Another sister, who is 10-years-old, was reportedly hit next as she also tried to run to the bedroom from the kitchen and was struck in the left side of her upper thigh. Redness could be lightly seen. The other sisters stated, when their 10-year-old sister was hit, she screamed loudly and he stopped for a moment, and then turned to the oldest sister, who is 13-years-old.
The 13-year-old sister reportedly took the brunt of Johnson’s aggression because she was “supposed to be in charge.” She told officers that they do not have hot running water and have to boll water on the stove to put in the tub for their baths. They were already supposed to be in bed, but were running late because they had dinner and had to boll water for their bath. When they took the pot off of tho stove and put it in tho tub, she must have left the eye of the stove on. She told officers that she came back to the kitchen some time later because she smelled smoke. The eye on the stove was on fire when she came in. She grabbed and poured a beg of salt on the stove fire, smothering it and putting it out. She said the smoke caused the smoke detector to go off and they tried to clear the house of smoke. A short time later is when her uncle came in and she said he started cursing about the smoke and almost burning down the house. He reportedly grabbed the belt and began to swing it at her sisters. She said she was still In the kitchen when he turned his attention to her and swung his belt at her. She said she did not turn around but stuck her hands out to block the blow. On her right arm, a large red welt could be seen forming and some bruising was noted.
The girls stated, “while Uncle Bobby was going crazy, they tried to sneak out the beck door, but he found them and made them go to one of the bedrooms. He looked for his belt to hit them again, but could not find his belt.” They said he came back with a brown extension cord and told the girls they better find his belt or they were going to be hit with the cord. They said they were “very scared at this point” and the oldest girl tried dialing 911 when their uncle left the room on her deactivated cell phone. She said she was surprised that it worked. While the uncle was looking for his belt, she told the 911 dispatcher of the incident and officers responded.
The girls were asked if their uncle has done this before and they all stated this was the second time. They told officers about an incident with their mother, identified as Sabrina Oakman, with Bobby Johnson. They said the incident became heated and scary this past Saturday. They said he was drunk then, too, and they thought he was going to hurt them.
After being read his Miranda Rights, Johnson said he was out with friends drinking until another friend called and said his smoke detector was going off at his mother’s house. Johnson said he had been “drinking Bud Light tonight and appeared to be intoxicated.” He said he got home and smelled smoke in the house. He said he loved the girls and he wants to make sure they do right. He added that he was upset they almost burned the house down and found the older girls breaking a rule for having cell phones at bed time.
Johnson said the girls also had the grandmother’s and his cell phone chargers, which were taken out of their bedrooms. He stated he took off his belt and hit only tho oldest girl once with his belt. He said he hit her on the back of her legs with the belt. When asked about the mark on her arm, or the other two girls with marks, he stated he did not hit them.
The girls’ grandmother was contacted. She is the girls’ primary caregiver and she told the officers there is a 2 hour window the girls are by themselves when their mother drops them off until the time she gets home. She said Johnson usually helps during the 2 hour gap, but he was not home that night, until the incident. She stated “the girls are bad and not surprised they were in trouble.” She said it is not uncommon they are spanked, sometimes with a belt, and stated some of the marks on the girts could have been from their mother the day before when she disciplined them for stealing money. The officers noted the marks on the girls were red and swelling. They appeared to be fresh and recent.
Oakman was contacted. When she arrived she corroborated the grandmother’s story. Oakman also stated her children are bad and it is not uncommon for them to lie or gang up against someone. When Oakman was told about Johnson’s actions, she admitted “that was too much.” She added that “he is a wonderful caregiver to the girls, until he drinks alcohol.” She stated she had a run-in with him this past Saturday, where it got a little tense and potentially violent towards her. She said she understood the situation and agreed they would need to come up with other arrangements than for “Bobby to watch her children.
Officers took photos of the scene and collected the belt, which was found in the kitchen. The extension cord was found on the couch in the family room, according to the report.
Johnson was taken to Aiken County Detention Center on a bench warrant from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and was also booked on 5 counts of Unlawful Conduct to a Child (one count for each child present).
According to the incident report, all of the children were in fear of being beaten with a belt, 3 of them were, and all five children were in fear of being beaten with an electrical extension cord.