NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The father of a disabled girl who died from gangrene and infected bedsores due to neglect has been charged with first-degree murder along with a home-health aide in what is being described as one of the worst child-neglect cases police have ever seen in Tennessee.
When 12-year-old Andrea Ruth died, paramedics and police are said to have reported that the Millington, Tenn., girl had sores so advanced the bones in her toes were visible.
The D.A.'s office announced on Wednesday that a grand jury has indicted the girl's father, Errol Johnson, 42, and health care worker Chasara Jones, 41, on a charge of first-degree murder in perpetration of aggravated child neglect. A third defendant has been indicted but will not be named until the defendant has been transferred from Louisiana, the office said in a news release.
Records did not list attorneys for either Jones or Johnson, said Marie Finney of the Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk's office.
The girl died in November 2012. An autopsy revealed she died from sepsis from the gangrene, said Vince Higgins, a spokeswoman for Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich.
"It's one of the worst cases that I've ever dealt with," Millington Police Sgt. Dennis Brunson said.
The girl suffered from hypertension, obesity and asthma, but her medical problems and fragile health were ignored, according to the district attorney's news release. The condition in Andrea's legs had deteriorated so much that she was scheduled to have both legs amputated in May of 2011 because of gangrene. The family, however, never showed up for the surgery and missed all later medical appointments, the release said.
Child-protection workers received a call after the girl did not show up for her appointments, said Rob Johnson, a spokesman for the Department of Children's Services. DCS arranged for a home-health care worker to be there for the girl and presumed that the health-care agency was taking care of her, Johnson said. He said there were no other reports of additional problems until she died.
Jones, the home-health aide, is said to have told investigators that she was aware of the child's condition, but didn't notify the health-care company she worked for or contact police or child-welfare investigators. Records show that a Chasara Jones of Memphis is still a licensed nursing aide in the state of Tennessee, state Department of Health spokeswoman Shelley Walker said in an email. Walker said the department as a policy does not say whether a health-care worker is being investigated by the state.
Higgins, the spokesman for the D.A.'s office, said nobody ever told police that the girl might be in trouble. The first word they had, he said, was after she had already been dead.
Johnson said officials were researching whether anyone reported problems with the girl to the agency.