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Roane woman charged with child abuse, neglect after three toddlers found playing in street as she slept

A Roane County woman was arrested Saturday on three counts of felony child abuse and neglect after her three young children were found playing in the street while she slept inside the home.

The Roane County Sheriff’s Office says deputies were called to the area of Swan Pond and Frost Hollow Roads shortly before 11 am Saturday after a passerby spotted three small children playing in the road, one of them completely naked. According to the incident report, the youngest child–a one-year-old–was wearing a soiled diaper and had dried feces on his legs. A two-year-old boy was naked and the eldest child, a three-year-old girl, was wearing only a t-shirt, and deputies reported that all three were “very dirty,” and that the girl’s hair appeared to be matted to a hair bow she was wearing. In addition, deputies reported that the two boys were covered in bug bites.

Deputies said the children couldn’t say where they lived, but one deputy saw a home nearby with the front door standing open. 

Deputies knocked on the back door several times and could not get anyone to the door, and had to walk around to the back of the residence to get up on the front porch due to all the trash piled up in the front and the high weeds. Deputies also stated that there were trash piles and high weeds all the way around the residence, with a few rats in the bigger trash piles.

The deputy spotted a woman asleep on the couch in the living room. According to the report, he had to shake the woman several times to get her to wake up. That woman was later identified as the mother, 30-year-old Latrisha Cline. 

Deputies asked her if she had any children. She said yes, but when asked where her children were, she said they were sleeping.

The deputy’s report said he explained to her that he was there because her three children were playing in the roadway at the end of the street , but in his report, said she seemed confused and kept saying her children were asleep. 

While inside the home, deputies noted there was no electricity or running water, and also observed that there was no stove or refrigerator. Deputies also reported that there were piles of trash everywhere, as well as insects, and that dirty clothes and food were strewn across the floors.

According to the report, the deputy stepped out to contact DCS and when he came back inside Cline was “attempting to sweep up the food and clean the living room area.”

While the deputy said he was trying to gather the children’s belongings, Cline took him to the back to bedrooms where the children had been staying, where they found more dirty clothing, old food, and dirty diapers in the floor. Cline could not find the children any clean clothes to put on, nor could she find any bottles for the two younger children, the report said.

She was able to find some shorts and a t-shirt for the young girl and a pair of shorts for the oldest boy but no clean clothes for the youngest boy, the report said.

Family members were called by DCS to pick up the three children. 

Investigators also made contact with two other adults in the home, identified as Kenneth Spears and Phillip Ellis. They, too, were sleeping when authorities arrived, according to the report. 

When the deputy ran their names to check for warrants, Ellis came back with an outstanding arrest warrant out of Roane County. He was arrested and taken to the Roane County Jail.

Cline was also taken to the Roane County Jail.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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