Family of Martonio Wilder demanding answers

Martonio’s mother, LaShanda Wilder, is charged with murder and obstruction of justice in connection to his death.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Rachelle Knight said she got a call from her niece, LaShanda Wilder, on Friday afternoon saying that her 8-year-old son, Martonio, ran away.

Worried, Knight showed up to help search for him, alongside Columbus police officers who used drones and a helicopter.

“How could you, when you got all us out here looking for him they looking, they looking and the whole time he dead?” Knight said. This came after learning the boy’s body was found in LaShanda’s attic inside a trash bag and sleeping bag cover.

Police said LaShanda took off with her girlfriend, Johnna Lowe, when they prepared to bring a cadaver K-9 inside the house during the search.

LaShanda is now charged with murder. She and Lowe are both facing obstruction of justice charges.

The two women turned themselves in to police around 5 p.m. Saturday after a nearly 24-hour manhunt.

Around the same time Saturday evening, Martonio’s family, including many of his young cousins, gathered outside the crime scene in northeast Columbus to mourn the young boy, lighting candles and releasing balloons into the sky.

“Martonio was a bright kid, all he wanted was to be loved, he wanted to be loved,” Knight said.

Many tears were shed, but between the sadness and grief, there was shock and anger about how the 8-year-old boy ended up dead.

Knight said Martonio was treated differently from LaShanda’s other children. She said Martonio would tell her he was forced to eat inside a closet and drink sanitizer. She said she and other family members tried to step in.

“I’m still in disbelief because how dare you, if you didn’t love your son you should’ve let him stay with people who love him,” Knight said.

Before LaShanda turned herself in, Knight and other family members said they received text messages from her in which she tried to place blame on her 9-year-old son for Martonio’s death.

Police have not said how or when Martonio died.

Martonio’s family is now pushing for justice for his death.

“He was 8 years old, 8 years old Lashanda, how?” Knight said.

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