Runaways tell police of abuse

Date: 2008-10-23

Runaways tell police of abuse

October 23, 2008
Jill Cecil Wiersma
THE TENNESSEAN

SPRING HILL — Two children found running away from home Monday led police to a Spring Hill Estates woman they're accusing of neglect and abuse.

Officer Jesus Lopez spotted a 12-year-old male and 13-year-old female, one riding a bike and one walking, around Belshire Way on Main Street just before 9 a.m. Lopez noticed that the child on the bike was not wearing a helmet and wondered why the two were not in school, said Sgt. Justin Whitwell.

"They are supposedly home-schooled. But it was apparent that something was going on," Whitwell said. "There was some bruising on them."

The children were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and are in the custody of the Department of Children's Services while the Spring Hill Police Department continues its investigation.

Charges are pending against Shelley Blair, 41, of 2610 Jake Way. District Attorney Kim Helper said police plan to take the case to the grand jury but need time to conduct a thorough investigation. The next grand jury session is Nov. 10.

Both juveniles were poorly nourished and had poor personal hygiene, according to police. Members of the department's Criminal Investigations Division believe the children may have been imprisoned in the home.

"They were in the home and not allowed to leave," Whitwell said. "We don't have a time frame for how long they were actually like that."

Police searched the home after obtaining a warrant. The search yielded evidence to support the children's allegations of abuse and neglect.

Contact Jill Cecil Wiersma at 615-790-7207 or jwiersma@tennessean.com.

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