Tenn. Police Rescue 2 Abused Girls; Teen Held in Coffin-Like Space

April 26, 2023
Responding to a child abuse complaint, Greenbrier police found a 15-year-old girl who had been disciplined by being put in a confined space for 13 hours and a 9-year-old girl who had never seen a doctor.

Tennessee police rescued two girls earlier this month from an allegedly abusive environment where they were neglected and often kept in confined areas, including one space that was smaller than a coffin.

Greenbrier police, along with Tennessee Department of Child Services, responded to a child abuse complaint involving a 15-year-old girl and a 9-year-old girl living in a camper with two women, WKRN-TV reports. The women—who aren't related and are the mothers of the two children—had been living together for several years and had moved recently from Ohio.

Both children had not received regular medical care while in the women's care, and the 9-year-old had not been to a doctor or dentist since she was an infant. Even regular hygiene was an issue for the girls.

“We asked about shots and immunizations and (the 9-year-old girl) has not received those,” said Lt. Buster Locklayer.

“One of the kids did state if she could change things, she would live in a cleaner environment where she could take a shower,” he added.

The women claimed the girls were home-schooled, but they could not provide lesson details to investigators. According to police, the 9-year-old girl had never attended school.

The most alarming allegation involved the discipline of the 15-year-old girl. After she inappropriately used one of the women's cellphones, the teen was put in a pitch black, confined space under the couch—an area roughly 5 feet long, 3 feet wide and 10 inches high—for 13 hours

“Thirteen hours in a space you cannot even turn over, so you are confined to laying in that one position,” said Locklayer, adding that there were no air holes and no way for the teen to go to the bathroom.

One of the women told police that she put the teen in the coffin-like space in order to keep the woman from hitting the girl. She also admitted to putting the girl's face under a pillow or blank because she didn't want to look at her face.

According to police, the women confessed to and expressed remorse over the allegations. Locklayer said he hopes police and social workers intervened in time to save the two girls.

“I hope so, I hope so," he said. "I am feeling a lot better than when I arrived.”

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