A toddler’s parents and grandfather were arrested after the child was found inside a filthy trailer house.
Parents TJ Brown, 46, Heather Scarbrough, 42, and grandparent Charles Brown, 82, were taken into custody in Henry County on counts of aggravated child abuse, aggravated animal cruelty, possession of a firearm, manufacturing of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police were called about possible animal mistreatment and responded at a trailer on a remote property in Henry County, Tennessee, about 100 miles west of Nashville.
Inside the trailer, the officers found an 18-month-old being kept in a 4×4 filthy cage which was filled with urine-soaked clothes and feces. Several snakes, including the boa constrictor, had free rein of the trailer as well. Three buckets of mice were kept next to the cage.
Heather and T.J. are the child’s parents. Charles Brown is the child’s grandfather and owns the property.
The parents of the toddler told a US court that it was the “safest place” for the child in their animal-overridden trailer which they call home.
The three adults were arraigned before a judge, where officials heard details about the disgusting conditions of the home where the young toddler was found living in a cage.
Sheriff Monte Belew from Henry County found the boy and said that there were eight snakes total living inside the room with the boy as well as dozens of dogs running around the property.
According to Sheriff Belew, parts of the home did not have any flooring at all, and the kitchen was “unlivable.” He added that the entire trailer was infested with maggots and cockroaches, including the kennel where the boy allegedly slept.
“It’s a very rural part of the county, you’re not far from the state line,” Sheriff Belew said. “Dale Cemetery Road is not a very traveled road at all. Not much traffic on it whatsoever. They just wanted to live their life. We had to explain to them that there is a norm.”
“It was heartbreaking to see the conditions this child was living in, there was nothing for that baby in the entire house outside the cage, he was in,” Sheriff Monte Belew said. “All his toys were in there with him.”
“There were no other toys, no crib, no blankets for him,” he added. “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 prosecution told the court that the trailer smelled like ammonia, feces, and urine and had dozens of cockroaches inside the child’s kennel.
The defense for the family attempted to downplay the young toddler in the snake cage, arguing that it was a “makeshift playpen for a lower-income family.”
“When I put a child in a playpen, there’s not eight snakes, hundreds of rats and hamsters and mice up against the cage, there’s no cockroaches in the cage, there’s not urine-soaked clothes in the cage, I mean, there’s a big difference,” the investigator said from the stand.
Investigator said that the toddler was only suffering from a rash at the time he was found by officers and added that the boy did not even have a blanket or a toy inside the cage.
The attorney said the family told him the snake cage was the safest place for the toddler in the completely filthy home. Department of Child Services told the court that the boy’s hair had tested positive for THC, which is found in marijuana.
Police later estimated that at least 600 animals including cats and dogs were recovered from the remote property. Animal Rescue Corps assisted with the removal of animals from the property after arrests, with some being found dead.
“They were in tanks and they were completely filled to the top with feces,” Michael Cunningham from Animal Rescue Corps said. “It was a complete mess. There was trash on the floor, cockroaches all over us, and flies everywhere.”
The animals found at the mobile home included: 86 chickens and roosters, 56 dogs, 10 rabbits, 4 parakeets, 3 cats, 8 snakes, one pheasant, 531 rodents, one gecko, and three sugar gliders.
Also recovered from the home were 127 marijuana plants and 17 semi-automatic guns, including an AR-15.
The possession of firearms charges against the mother was dismissed and the marijuana possession charge was reduced from a class B felony to a class C felony.
Charles Brown, who is out on bond, is set to be arraigned on November 9 after waiving his preliminary hearing. All the other charges were bound over, according to the attorneys.
Recommended Video For You!
Big Dog Takes Nap With Toddler In The Crib