You guys, I wish I wasn’t writing another story like this, but here we are. Just like poor, sweet 11-year-old Logan Cline, another little boy’s body has been found, months after his death, in the trunk of a car, and just like in Logan’s story, the boy’s mother has been arrested in connection with his death.
This story begins with a neighbor’s phone call, so thank God for that. Too many of these cases happen because neighbors (or others) don’t call the police.
On January 26, a neighbor of 26-year-old Sagal Hussein called police to report seeing two young unsupervised children outside their apartment building at 2070 Riverview Drive in the village of Howard, Wisconsin. When police responded and interviewed the children, a six-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl, the boy told them their mother, Sagal, had left them alone overnight, and they didn’t know where she was.
Police located the kids’ mother, who claimed she had been running errands and had only left her kids alone for ten minutes. Eventually, police said, they discovered information that made them doubt the accuracy of her statement. When they confronted her, she told them she had made another stop during her errand run and was actually gone for about 40 minutes.
The children were temporarily removed from the home by Brown County Child Protective Services, who placed them in the care of Sagal’s mother. At that point, investigators found out that Sagal had a third child, five-year-old Josias, who was described as “high-needs” and needing extensive care. CPS told police they would follow up with Sagal.
Sagal was initially interviewed by a police officer and a CPS worker on January 28, a day after her six-year-old underwent a forensic interview. Sagal stated during her interview that she had been gone on the 26th for no longer than an hour. When asked about her middle child, she told the interviewers that Josias was picked up by his biological father on January 9 and was living with the man in Michigan.
She could not provide a phone number for the boy’s father, saying that when he called her, he always called using a private or restricted number.
Throughout the months of February and March, CPS repeatedly got in touch with Sagal, attempting to make contact with Josias. On March 25, a Brown County Sheriff’s Officer and a CPS worker paid Sagal a visit. She wasn’t able to explain where she was on the morning of January 26 when her children were spotted outside by themselves, and she provided the authorities with no further information on Josias’ whereabouts. She continued to claim that she did not have any contact information for the person purportedly caring for her son.
Investigators received information on March 27 that contradicted Sagal’s statement about the identity of Josias’ father, who, they determined, was a man named James Marquez who lived in San Jose California. After interviewing several people, police determined that no one other than Sagal had reported seeing her five-year-old son since November 25, 2019.
On March 30, due to inconsistencies in her story and her refusal to be truthful or cooperate with investigators, Sagal Abdirshid Hussein was arrested on four charges of child neglect. Her children were taken into CPS custody. Police obtained a search warrant for her home and vehicle.
The vehicle, which was found at a home in Green Bay, was secured overnight by the Brown County Sheriff’s Office until it could be transported the next day to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab in Madison.
While the car was being processed for forensic evidence on March 31, investigators conducted interviews with neighbors, teachers, and family members of Sagal and her children. At around 3:00 PM that day, the Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Crime Lab with some disturbing news.
The remains of a child were found in the trunk of Sagal’s vehicle.
On April 1, Sagal appeared in Brown County Court for a probable cause hearing regarding various criminal charges, which have not yet been officially filed. Her bond was set at $500,000 cash, and the probable cause affidavit has been sealed.
On April 2, the State Crime Lab assisted in searching Sagal’s home.
On April 15, results of an autopsy confirmed the identity of the body as that of her five-year-old son, Josias.
Josias Justice Marquez was born on October 18, 2014. As a newborn, he suffered from meningitis and spent the first several weeks of his life in the hospital. He survived, but he was left blind, and as a result of his medical issues, he suffered from such severe seizures that he had to be heavily sedated for much of his short life. Unable to walk, Josias, known fondly as “JoJo” to his family, was transported everywhere in a stroller. Nonetheless, he had a great big smile and an infectious giggle that he loved to share.
Sagal’s mother, Amal Ismal, told a reporter via interpreter that she didn’t know why Sagal told investigators that Josias was with his father. She said, “Mom said dad wasn’t caring. He left the kids with Sagal. He was in California. He wasn’t a caring dad, and he wasn’t doing his part as a dad.”
I want to interject here. This shouldn’t matter in the least, but I’ve seen people making a big deal about race in this case, so let me clear that up. Sagal and her family are not Middle Eastern; their ancestry is from Somalia, which is a country in Africa. I hope that’s the end of that ridiculous non-controversy. The things people will say when they see someone wearing a head covering makes my own head spin.
Ismal said she was shocked when she heard that the body of her grandson had been found in the trunk of her daughter’s car, but she does not believe his death was the result of a murder.
“What I know is my daughter, Sagal, is that she was a loving mother,” Ismal said, “and she didn’t kill her own son, and what I believe is it was not her intention to hurt or kill her own child.”
James Marquez is reportedly the father of all three of Sagal’s children. Members of his family created a GoFundMe campaign to assist James in travelling to Wisconsin, where, on April 15, his now-7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter were reunited with James, his mother, and her sister.
Ismal said that she hoped her surviving grandchildren could remain in the Green Bay area rather than returning to California with their father.
Sagal appeared in court on April 1 for a probable cause hearing and again on April 15, when the judge granted prosecutors two weeks to file a criminal complaint. District Attorney David Lasee told a news station that his office will determine the appropriate charges when an official cause of death for Josias is determined. The next court hearing will take place on April 29 at 2:30 PM.
Sagal is being represented by Assistant State Public Defender Amanda Toonen.
According to court records, Sagal does currently face a felony charge of Forgery – Uttering with the modifier of PTAC (party to a crime), which means she may not have been the primary actor in the crime, but she was willing to assist. The Forgery – Uttering charge indicates that Sagal (or someone she was assisting) knowingly attempted to pass a forged or counterfeited document. It is unclear whether this charge is in any way related to Josias’ death, but it was filed on the same day as her original arrest.
In what appears to be an unrelated case, Sagal is also due in court in June to face two charges that were filed on March 9 of this year — operating a motor vehicle without a valid license and operating a motor vehicle without proof of insurance. The charges relate to a 2009 Nissan Murano station wagon. This could have something to do with the reason Sagal’s vehicle was found not at her home in Howard, but at another home in Green Bay.
Josias was obviously adored by his family. His maternal aunt made the following Facebook post after his death was confirmed. This broke my heart. I really feel for both sides of the family here.
The aunt, Sagal’s sister, also posted videos of the little boy she cherished.
Just look at this giggling little angel.
If you have any information about Josias, have witnessed abuse of any of Sagal’s three children, or have seen Josias since November 25, please contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and speak with Sergeant Brian Slinger at (920) 448-4404 or Sergeant Randy Lind at (920) 448-6184.
The investigation is ongoing. Click here for my continuing coverage of Josias’ case.
If nothing else, Josias is no longer suffering. Wherever he is, I hope he’s running around, laughing and playing, spreading his gorgeous light to everyone and everything around him. Rest in peace, precious boy.
Sources: Green Bay Press Gazette, ABC2 WBAY, Metro, NBC15, Fox11 News, WeAreGreenBay.com, Fox6 Milwaukee, Facebook, court documents