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Sleeping adults charged with neglect after toddlers wander off in Surgoinsville

Jeff Bobo • Aug 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

SURGOINSVILLE — The parents of two small children and two other adults were charged Wednesday with child neglect in connection with an incident earlier this month in which the children were found by police walking in the roadway.

Hawkins County Sheriff Roger Christian said Wednesday that one child is “nearly 2 years old,” and the other is 3.

Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scott Stewart stated in the arrest warrant that on Aug. 1 at 10:39 a.m. he found the two small children “walking in the middle of Lauren Drive” in the Stewart’s Landing subdivision near the Hawkins County Airport.

Stewart stated in the warrant it took him approximately a half hour to locate the parents of the children, Christopher Matthew Mullins, 35, and Rachel Stoner Mullins, 27, both of 718 Phillips Town Road, Bulls Gap.

The couple were found sleeping in a residence at 370 Lauren Drive.

Another couple, Trenton Wayne Flaherty, 23, and Ashley Morgan Flaherty, 20, both of 370 Lauren Drive, Surgoinsville, were also asleep at the residence.

“All of the adults stated that they had been asleep when the children wandered from the residence,” Stewart stated on the arrest warrants. “I did contact the DCS (Department of Children’s Services) Hotline and made a referral at this time.”

On that date the children were placed in the custody of relatives.

The two couples were notified earlier this week that they would be charged with child neglect, and they turned themselves in at the sheriff’s department Tuesday morning.

All four are scheduled for arraignment in Hawkins County Sessions Court on Aug. 25.

In a separate incident involving a child at 370 Lauren Drive, the Surgoinsville Police Department was dispatched to the residence the evening of July 6 after an adult accidentally locked a small child in a vehicle with the keys.

Surgoinsville Police Chief Jeff Hesoun said Officer Cliff Evans broke out the window rather than waiting for a locksmith because it was hot and the child’s health was at risk. No charges were filed in that incident.

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