Southaven grandmother claims system ‘failed’ her family

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — Ten days after the tragic death of her granddaughter, a Southaven woman is opening up about the incident.

On March 22, Towana Johnson woke up that morning to get her two-year-old granddaughter Jastiny ready, but she found the child unresponsive in her room.

“I was just holding her and I was shaking her to wake up and I said, ‘come on baby just wake up,” Johnson said. “And I was just praying to God just one more time, just one more time.”

Southaven police have not released what they believe happened to Jastiny, but her mother, Jessica Tabor, is has been charged with capital murder.

Child found dead, mother arrested in Southaven

“I don’t know specifically what happened, I just know we are dealing with some serious issues,” Johnson said. “We are dealing with issues of mental illness I will say.”

  • Jastiny and Towana Johnson.
    Jastiny and Towana Johnson.
  • Jastiny and Towana Johnson.
    Jastiny and Towana Johnson.
  • Jastiny.
    Jastiny.
  • Jastiny.
    Jastiny.
  • Jessica Tabor.
    Jessica Tabor.

Johnson was raising Jastiny and her brother because Jessica suffered from severe mental illness and was in and out of institutions.

“This, taking them in, couple of pills here and there, saying they’re OK, doesn’t work. Maybe ask the family,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that she’d done everything she could to get Jessica more mental help and give her grandchildren the best life, but the system failed them.

“If you have a mother that’s telling you, a grandmother that’s telling you that something needs to be done, and that the system is broken, they need to listen,” Johnson said. “Because it could have been avoided.”

As Johnson deals with her grief, she encourages others to be proactive in getting their loved ones the help that they need.

“If anybody out there has a loved one that suffers from anything, if you see just the slightest little sign, pay attention and you have to fight,” Johnson said. “You have to fight for your loved ones.”

For anyone in need of mental health resources, assistance in Shelby County can be found here.

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