A Millington couple is facing charges of child abuse and neglect after investigators say they forced their 9-year-old daughter to sleep in a bathtub and did not feed her properly.
It all began in January, when, according to the affidavit, Shelby County investigators were called to Millington Elementary after the girl tried to steal food from a teacher. Investigators said the girl told the teacher she was mistreated at home and wanted to be adopted so she could “sleep in a warm bed, take hot showers, and have good meals.” The girl told the responding sergeant she was often not fed at home when school was in session, because she gets two meals at school. She said she would sometimes be given dry ramen noodles, and one time was given hot dog buns while the rest of the family ate spaghetti.
Investigators said the girl wore dirty clothes, tennis shoes that were too large, and had a spot shaved in the top of her head. She told them that she sometimes pulled her hair, and her stepmother, Trish Piatt, shaved the top of the girl’s head when she was mad at her.
According to the affidavit, Department of Children’s Services was called, and the responding agent told the sergeant they had numerous reports on the girl and wanted her sent back home. The sergeant refused, saying she was not comfortable doing that due to the “severity of the accusations.”
The girl’s father, Jesse Piatt, was called, and investigators say he told them that the girl sometimes slept in the bathtub, and they had tried numerous times to make her sleep in her room, but she refused. They say he also told them she had refused to brush her teeth for more than a year and they were “unable to make her do anything.” Jesse Piatt said DCS had been called several times when the girl attended another school, and they moved her to Millington Elementary because “he was tired of the staff looking at his family funny and (the girl) was an embarrassment to the other children.” Investigators said he also told them he was trying to have the girl admitted to a long-term mental health facility because he was “afraid she would kill them as they slept.” Investigators say Jesse Piatt told them the girl was not medicated because “she was too young to diagnose.” When asked why he didn’t release custody of the girl if he didn’t want her in the home, they said he told them he “didn’t want to be thought bad of.”
The girl was taken to Lakeside, and the sergeant said when asked about how she felt about going there, the girl told her she would rather go there than home because at least she would be able to eat and sleep in a bed.
According to the affidavit, teachers told detectives they had at one time bought the girl shoes because hers were so worn out, and she would leave them in the office, and change into them when she got to school. She would remove them before going home, because she told them Trish Piatt would take them away. The teachers said the one time she forgot to do that, the shoes were never seen again.
Following the initial investigation, the sergeant consulted with a doctor about the girl’s injuries. Investigators again interviewed the girl less than a month after the initial call. According to the affidavit, she said she was again not being fed at home and forced to sleep in the bathroom. They said she had gained some weight but was complaining of back pain and an ear ache. She told them Trish Piatt had refused to take her for treatment.
DCS was called again and the girl was taken to Le Bonheur, where the doctor said abrasions and bruising were consistent with the girl’s accusations that she was grabbed by the arms, pushed to the ground, and kicked. The girl told investigators her stepmother was to blame. The doctor also said the girl had a “jewel” embedded in her ear, too close to the eardrum to remove without sedation.
During the following interviews, investigators say the girl also claimed that in the past, Trish Piatt had pushed her to the ground, breaking her arm. The girl said her parents waited several days to take her to the hospital, and she was told to say the dog knocked her down. She said as soon as they returned home, Jesse Piatt removed the sling. Investigators said the girl told them Trish hated her and would tell her she should just “go ahead and kill herself.” The girl also told them she would be forced to drink toilet water when staying in the bathroom. She said sometimes she would sleep in the guest house without a blanket, food, or water when she didn’t finish her chores. She also said her parents would use a belt to hit her back, arms, legs, and sides when she had no clothes on.
According to the affidavit, the girl was placed in foster care, and has since gained weight, her hair has grown back, she sleeps in a bed, and now seems to be a happy, now 10-year-old child.
Jesse Piatt, 37, is charged with aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment. Trish Piatt, 30, is charged with the same. Trish Piatt is scheduled to be arraigned on April 2nd. No bond is set at this time. It’s unclear when Jesse Piatt is set to be in court.