White County mother charged in death of son with Down Syndrome

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Brenda Ann Stafford

Brenda Ann Stafford (Courtesy: District Attorney Bryant Dunaway)

WHITE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A 72-year-old woman has been indicted on multiple charges, including first-degree murder, for the death of her son last year in White County.

District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway said the Sparta Police Department began investigating the alleged neglect and mistreatment of Mark Stafford, 42, by his mother, Betty Ann Stafford, in February 2019. Mark, who had Down Syndrome, was in the care of his mother, Dunaway explained.

Dunaway said an autopsy determined Mark Stafford died of severe malnutrition and sepsis associated with severe sores on his body. He reportedly weighed just 54 pounds at the time of his death.

The case was presented to a grand jury on May 21. Dunaway said Betty Ann Stafford was indicted on charges of first-degree felony murder and aggravated neglect of a vulnerable adult.

She was arrested Friday and booked into the White County jail. Dunaway urged anyone with information on other potential victims of Betty Ann Stafford to contact the District Attorney General’s Office or the Sparta Police Department.

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