Alexa Linboom's grave is marked only by a printed piece of paper inside a plastic case. Contributed photo.
Send donations to Alexa Linboom Memorial Fund c/o CIVIS Bank p.o. Box 550 Rogersville, Tn 37857
SURGOINSVILLE — Five-year-old Alexa Linboom’s horrific 2012 death made headlines from coast to coast last month, but one thing that only her closest family and friends knew was that Alexa doesn’t have a proper headstone on her grave.
Now Alexa’s half sisters and their mother, who reside in Kingsport, are trying to raise enough money to give her a decent marker.
Alexa’s grave at the Long Bend Baptist Church cemetery is currently marked by a plastic case staked into the ground with a printed paper inside identifying the grave as hers.
Last month her sisters launched a fundraising effort by placing buckets seeking donations on the counter of various convenience stories in and around Surgoinsville.
When Alexa’s Surgoinsville Elementary School kindergarten teacher Karen Hostetler learned about the fundraiser, she knew she had to help.
Hostetler is currently in the process of setting up a bank account for donations to be made.
She has also contacted Reece Monuments in Hawkins County about making a stone for Alexa.
When the bank account is established — hopefully some time next week — Hostetler will notify the media with instructions on how the public can make contributions.
In the meantime, there are still donation buckets at several Surgoinsville area convenience stores.
“It was just really a shame that she doesn’t have a proper gravestone up there,” Hostetler said.
Hostetler added, “It should be something special. She was a special child, and she deserves better than she’s got up there.”
Alexa’s father, Randall Vaughn, 41, and his wife, Mary Vaughn, 58, both of 319 Ridge Haven Drive, Surgoinsville, were indicted last month by a Hawkins County grand jury on charges including first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse.
The charges carry a potential sentence of life without parole or the death penalty.
On Jan. 1, 2012, the Vaughns allegedly forced Alexa to drink about 2.4 liters of grape soda and water over a one- to two-hour span as punishment for taking one of Mary Vaughn’s drinks after being told not to.
According to the autopsy, the massive liquid intake caused her brain to swell and herniate. The couple allegedly failed to seek medical attention for several hours after Alexa first screamed in pain and then fell into a paralyzed state and unconsciousness.
An unresponsive Alexa was eventually brought to the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital emergency room in Rogersville by Randall and Mary Vaughn.
She was airlifted the same day to Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City, where she passed away on Jan. 3, 2012.
An autopsy was performed by the Quillen College of Medicine’s Department of Forensic Pathology in Johnson City.
Following a two-year investigation it was determined that the cause of death was acute fluid/water intoxication causing hyponatremic encephalopathy.
That occurs when sodium levels drop excessively low, allowing excess water to enter brain cells and cause swelling.
Alexa’s death was ruled a homicide.
The Vaughns remain held in the Hawkins County Jail on $500,000 bond each. They have a trial date set for Oct. 30 and a pretrial hearing set for April 30.