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Wandering toddler on 11-W leads to child neglect arrest

Jeff Bobo • Updated Jul 30, 2019 at 10:19 AM

CHURCH HILL — A Church Hill man was arraigned Monday in Hawkins County Sessions Court on one count of child neglect after the 2-year-old child he was caring for was found wandering along Highway 11-W last week.

On July 23 shortly after 2 p.m., the Church Hill Police Department responded to a report of an unsupervised toddler walking along 11-W at the AFG Road intersection.

Two witnesses, Keith and Jessica Coffey, told CHPD Detective Kevin Grigsby they were passing the intersection traveling east on 11-W when they noticed the child and stopped to care for him until police arrived.

Grigsby reportedly observed the child to be wearing a torn diaper with feces running down his leg, on his hands and on his shirt.

An investigation revealed that the child was supposed to be watched by his mother's boyfriend, Jeremiah Joel Houston, 25, 1268 Burlington Road, who was located at home with the 8-month-old child he shares with his girlfriend.

Houston explained that he and the 2-year-old had been out fishing late the previous night, and he'd been sleeping that afternoon when the boy apparently wandered outside.

The children's mother was at work, and the children had been left in Houston's care.

Houston was charged with one count of misdemeanor child neglect and released from the Hawkins County Jail later that evening.

During his arraignment Monday, Houston's next Sessions Court date was scheduled for Sept. 17.

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