Kingsport Times News Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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DA: Elderly Sullivan County neglect victim dies

April 4th, 2014 12:22 pm by Rain Smith

DA: Elderly Sullivan County neglect victim dies

Kayla Watson

A reportedly malnourished and dehydrated elderly woman who was hospitalized three weeks ago — and suspected of being neglected by her granddaughter — has since passed away.

Court records add that a video camera within the victim's home allegedly recorded the abuse, with the suspect letting her grandmother fall from bed and lie in the floor nearly seven hours. She then reportedly failed to provide the woman any food over a 22-hour period.

On Friday morning Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Amy Hinkle confirmed the death of Deloris Shaffer, 75, of 1704 Paperville Road, Bristol, Tenn. Hinkle said her body will be autopsied and an investigation is continuing, with additional charges pending.

As reported Thursday by the Times-News, Shaffer's granddaughter was arrested Tuesday. It followed a Sullivan County Sheriff's Office investigation into the victim's apparent lack of essential care.

Kayla Watson, 25, currently faces one charge in the case: willful abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an adult.

According to SCSO Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart, police were contacted by concerned members of Shaffer's family on March 15. A relative of the 75-year-old victim had reportedly picked her up for a visit to a medical clinic.

An affidavit filed in Sullivan County General Sessions Court in Bristol says Shaffer was then admitted into Johnston Memorial Medical Center in Abingdon. She was diagnosed with dehydration, malnutrition and pneumonia, and placed on a ventilator prior to her death.

Police report Watson had moved in with her grandmother earlier this year, under the premise of providing her with essential care. Watson's alleged lack to do so is believed to have spurred the victim's poor condition, prompting Watson's arrest.

Court records cite numerous incidents that reportedly merited the placement of charges against her, with each recorded on a video camera. Public records do not state who placed the video camera, nor why they chose to do so.

On March 9, according to the affidavit, "Watson allowed Ms. Shaffer to fall out of bed." The incident occurred at 12:29 p.m., with Watson not returning to check on her grandmother until 4:50 p.m.

Upon noticing the victim in the floor, Watson allegedly allowed her to lie there an additional 15 minutes. At that point Watson's husband, Derick Watson, 30, appeared on the video to place her back in bed.

An SCSO detective reports that the next morning, at 3:59 a.m., the video shows Shaffer, "bent over and half way out of the bed with no blanket." She reportedly didn't move until 10:19 a.m., with approximately 25 additional minutes passing before Watson ever checked on her. That left Shaffer unattended with no check on her welfare for approximately six hours and 45 minutes.

Police also note that over those two days, Shaffer went 22 consecutive hours with no one providing her food.

Watson posted $2,500 bond on Wednesday and was released. At approximately the same time her husband, Derick Watson, 30, was arrested in the jail parking lot.

The SCSO reports he had arrived to pick up his wife, with police realizing that he had an outstanding warrant for violation of probation. When approached by an officer he allegedly provided an incorrect date of birth and Social Security number, prompting an additional charge of criminal impersonation.

An investigation is continuing with additional charges pending.

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