Late last week, sheriff’s deputies in Henry County, Tennessee, found a toddler locked inside of a 4-by-4 cage, which had been consumed with filth, bugs and animals, according to several reports.
The child, who is about 18 months old, could have suffocated in the filth-filled cage, which had a snake in it among other animals, Sheriff Monte Belew told the Jackson Sun. The Henry County Sheriff’s Department charged Tom Brown, 46, Heather Scarbough, 42, and Charles Brown, 82, with aggravated child abuse and animal cruelty along with other weapons and drug charges.
Though uninjured, the child was hungry and the conditions he was living in were “heartbreaking,” Belew said.
“There was nothing for that baby in the entire house outside of the cage he was in. All his toys were in there with him.
“There were no other toys, no crib, no blankets for him. It appeared he spent most if not all his time in the cage, and the ammonia smell that came up when we lifted the cage and the bugs that were under it makes it appear as if he stayed in there a lot.”
The deputies were tipped off to the situation the child’s relatives were creating after an anonymous tip about animal cruelty at a trailer home in Buchanan. After arriving, investigators found unkempt chickens roaming the property, snakes, several dogs locked in cages and more than 500 mice, rats and hamsters.
“We don’t know what purpose mice, rats and hamsters were serving – they could’ve been food for the snakes or they could’ve been for sale purposes – but this was definitely an unusual situation,” Belew said.
Tom Brown was also charged with a count of felon with possession of a firearm from a past conviction in Florida.
Belew said more charges and more counts of each charge could be possible pending the continuing investigation.
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