Woman charged with locking mentally challenged sister in shed - WKRN News 2

Woman charged with locking mentally challenged sister in shed

Posted: Updated: Dec 6, 2011 10:02 PM
Tracy Carman-Thacker, 45, was arrested Monday on three felony counts. Tracy Carman-Thacker, 45, was arrested Monday on three felony counts.
A small space heater provided the only warmth in the shed. A small space heater provided the only warmth in the shed.
BEECHGROVE, Tenn. -

A Coffee County woman was arrested Monday on charges she kept her mentally handicapped sister locked in a shed that had no windows and no running water.

"The windows were broken out of this part of the structure," Coffee County Sheriff's Department Captain Frank Watkins said. "No telling how long she would have been out there without any food or fresh water."

Investigators said Tracy Lynn Carman-Thacker kept her sister in the eight foot by 12 foot outbuilding behind her home on Ferrell's Loop Road in the Beechgrove community, north of Manchester.

According to the Coffee County Sheriff's Department, the 58-year-old sister was only fed once a day and not allowed to leave.

"I was a detective for 12 years and I worked a lot of the sex crimes and I dealt with a lot of abuse," Watkins said. "I have never seen a person kept like this."

The door to the shed was wired shut with a large gauge wire.

The only electricity was from an extension cord plugged into a small radiator heater.  There was no running water and a toilet in the shed was full of human waste, according to Watkins.

"We are just thankful someone did call and make this complaint," Watkins said. "We applaud them for doing so."

The Department of Human Services was investigating that complaint when an employee went to Carman-Thacker's home.

The DHS employee heard Carman-Thacker's sister yelling for help from inside the small locked room.

"DHS said they gave the woman something to eat and they said it was kind of bad to watch how fast she devoured the food," Watkins said. "She was so hungry."

The woman, who authorities will not name, was taken to an area hospital to be treated for dehydration and malnutrition. She remains in DHS custody until a hearing can be held to determine if she should be placed with other family members or stay in state custody.

Authorities said Carman-Thacker was receiving social security checks for the care and upkeep of her sister, who has the mental capacity of a 10 or 12 year old.

The 45-year-old was charged with two felony counts of willful abuse and exploitation and one count of reckless endangerment.

More charges are possible in connection with Carman-Thacker's use of her sister's social security benefits and in connection with how she gained control over her sister's finances.

Neighbors living near Carman-Thacker of Ferrell's Loop Road declined to comment to Nashville's News 2 about the arrest.

Ironically, Carman-Thacker is studying to be a nurse.

Carman-Thacker's two school-aged children were placed with relatives when she was arrested.

She was booked into the Coffee County jail on a $300,000 bond, where she remains.

A preliminary court date is set for December 19.

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