Sheriff: 2 arrested after autistic child found in cage in Jonesborough


UPDATE, 12:30 p.m.

Court records pertaining to a 10-year-old autistic girl found inside a wooden cage at a Washington County, Tennessee residence reveal the parents told police that it was the only way they could control her.

The affidavit obtained by News 5 says Patricia Laws and Mickey Sparks told the officers that that Department of Child Services personnel had made prior visits to the home and that the agency had "approved the caged area."

A CPS Supervisor called to the home during the investigation said no approval had been made by their offices. The parents also told the child care officials that they had been using the cage for the girl for "the last three to four years."

The officer said in the report that when he entered the room where the child was caged-up, he found the child laying on a small mattress on the floor of the padlocked cage that had no roof.

"She did not appear to be in distress," the officer wrote.

Sparks, the father of the child, also told police that he had video surveillance cameras inside and outside their home located in the 100 block of Miller Crossing Road in Jonesborough with camera focused on the girl's cage.

The parents are scheduled to be arraigned in aggravated child abuse and neglect charges charges Tuesday afternoon in Sessions Court.


According to Washington County, Tennessee Sheriff Ed Graybeal, two people are behind bars after police found an autistic 10-year-old child Monday in a cage which smelled of urine and feces.

Deputies responded to a welfare check on Miller Crossing Road in Jonesborough. Deputies arrived and found the homeowners, 69-year-old Mickey Sparks and 43-year-old Patricia Laws.

Authorities entered the bedroom and found a locked wooden cage with a mattress and the child inside. Three other children also were in the home. The Department of Child Protective Services responded and took the children.

Sparks and Laws were both arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect. They are being held in the Washington County Detention Center on a $50,000 bond.

Arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday in Washington County General Sessions Court.

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