System ‘failed’ 3 children found living in ‘deplorable conditions,’ Dyersburg police chief says

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DYERSBURG, Tenn. (WKRN) — Dyersburg police said three children were taken into the custody of a Tennessee Department of Children Services investigator after 11 referrals to the department about their family. 

On Thursday, police responded to a welfare complaint on Brayton Street. Police discovered what they called “deplorable conditions,” which included roaches and insects, animal feces throughout the home, and exposed electrical wires.  

Three children were discovered in the home, ages 9, 5, and 4. Officers said the children appeared to have not been bathed and were reportedly wearing the same clothes for weeks. The children were barefoot and two of them said they did not have shoes.  

Police said their investigation determined that 11 referrals had been made to DCS involving the family.  

Chief of Police Steve Isbell told News 2 he did not know where the referrals came from, however, he said the referrals were confirmed through DCS. He said he believes the system in place “failed” the three children. 

“At this point in the investigation, I do not know where the referrals were generated from, however the referrals were confirmed through DCS. I also do not know the status of those referrals. What I do know is there is an apparent breakdown when you have children living in those deplorable conditions, and the system in place that is designed to protect children has failed them,” Chief Isabell said in a statement to News 2.  

Dyersburg police charged 26-year-old Angela McCaine and 26-year-old John Walton with child abuse and neglect. Walton was also charged with possession of heroin, possession of methamphetamine, and simple possession of marijuana. 

McCaine’s bond was set at $25,000 and Walton’s bond was set at $50,000.  and Walton were jailed pending Dyersburg City Court. 

News 2 reached out to The Department of Children’s Services for comment on the repeated referrals. DCS told News 2 state confidentiality laws prohibit the department from discussing child and family-specific information.

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