Police said alcohol was a factor.
Around 6:45 p.m., Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Scott Alley responded to the residence of Patrick and Amy Wilder on Flora Ferry Road near Rogersville after Mrs. Wilder, who was staying with relatives, reported the disturbing text message to Hawkins County Central Dispatch.
Police were also informed that Mr. Wilder had multiple firearms in his possession.
Alley made contact with Mr. Wilder, 60, who was detained by deputies until the son was located alive and well.
Alley said the Wilders had apparently been involved in a dispute that resulted in Mrs. Wilder leaving the home to stay with relatives for two or three days, although the son had reportedly opted to stay with his dad.
Mr. Wilder had been drinking Saturday, Alley noted, and was contacting his wife trying to get her to come home. She sent him a message asking to speak to their son, after which Mr. Wilder replied that the boy had been dead for two days.
Alley said Mrs. Wilder definitely believed her husband’s claim.
“Once we got over there and made contact with him, she came rolling in and we had to tackle her,” Alley said. “She was going in to check on her son and we hadn’t secured him yet. He (Mr. Wilder) told her three times in text messages that he was dead, had been dead for two days, and even went as far as to send her a picture that was supposed to depict him being dead, but he was actually asleep. By that time she was so hysterical she called us, but as far as the child, he came out while we were securing Mr. Wilder and he was fine. He wasn’t even aware of what his dad had done.”
Alley added, “(Mr. Wilder) admitted that he’d sent the texts, and he was kind of surprised that we showed up. He got more attention than he bargained for.”
The boy was released to his mother and a referral was made to the Department of Children’s Services.
Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-308 specifically states that a person commits Class A misdemeanor harassment when he or she “communicates by telephone to another that a relative or other person has been injured, killed or is ill when the communication is known to be false.”
Wilder was released from the Hawkins County Jail Saturday night on $1,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in Sessions Court Monday morning.