Parents charged with child abuse, heroin possession at Church Hill Inn

Jeff Bobo • Aug 13, 2019 at 10:00 PM

CHURCH HILL — Two Kingsport residents were charged with child abuse and drug possession last week after heroin and meth were allegedly found in their motel room while their children were locked outside.

Around 8:40 p.m. Thursday, the Church Hill Police Department received an anonymous tip that the occupants of Room 114 at the Church Hill Inn, 1142 Volunteer Blvd., were using drugs in their room while their children, ages 7 and 11, were locked outside.

CHPD Officer Ethan Mays stated in his report that before his arrival, the caller indicated that a brown van with two occupants arrived at the motel with narcotics.

When he arrived at the motel, Mays reportedly observed the children playing in the parking lot, as well as a brown van parked outside Room 114.

When Mays knocked on the door, a man later identified as Jeffery Lynn Perry, 54, 4380 Weaver Pike, Bluff City, was observed through the window but initially refused to open the door.

Upon entering the room, Mays reportedly identified the children’s parents, Johnathan Travis Cornell, 35, and Ashley Danielle Cornell, 30, both of Kingsport, as well as Robert Douglas Sheppard, 55, also of 4380 Weaver Pike, Bluff City, Perry, and another adult female who wasn’t arrested.

“I explained the purpose of my visit, and Mr. Cornell denied any drug use taking place in the room,” Mays stated in his report. “Mr. Cornell and his wife were the actual occupants of the room and consented to a search. Inside the room, I located a small bag with numerous syringes — one loaded with what is believed to be heroin — a spoon and cut straw.”

Mays added, “Located between the beds was a spoon with what is believed to be heroin residue. A gray bag with numerous syringes and a bottle with unknown pills was located on one bed, and a pink bag additionally contained a syringe, scale and cut straw. More unknown pills were found in a makeup box on the dresser as well.”

Perry was allegedly found in possession of a small amount of what is believed to be methamphetamine in his wallet and a scale, pipes and cut straw in his vehicle.

Mays said Perry admitted he drove to the motel with his passenger, Sheppard, who allegedly claimed ownership of the gray bag.

No one claimed ownership of the syringe loaded with heroin, Mays added.

Perry was charged with simple possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia. As of Tuesday, he was being held in the Hawkins County Jail with no bond set.

Sheppard was charged with simple possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arraigned Monday in Sessions Court, and as of Tuesday was being held in jail on $3,000 bond pending his next court date on Aug. 21.

Mr. and Mrs. Cornell were charged with simple possession of heroin, child abuse/neglect and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both were arraigned Monday in Sessions Court and ordered held on $10,000 bond each pending their next court date on Aug. 21.

The Department of Children’s Services responded to the motel and took custody of the children, who were placed in the custody of a family member.

The pills, suspected heroin and suspected meth were sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation lab for analysis.

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