published Friday, July 25th, 2014

Bail set for Hixson couple in adult abuse case

A Hixson couple have been arrested and charged with physical abuse or gross neglect of an impaired adult after Tennessee Adult Protective Services officials discovered that a mentally disabled 35-year-old was living in a dirty room with feces on the floor.

Florence and Kenneth Headrick are accused of abusing Florence Headrick's adult daughter, Tammy Sharp, who was living with the pair on North Prairie Circle in Hixson. Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge Christine Sell set bail for both the Headricks at $99,000 Thursday and sent the case to a grand jury, which will decide whether to indict.

Authorities investigated after receiving a report of abuse and found Sharp was living in a room full of spiderwebs, mold and trash, the arrest report states. There were feces on the floor and the woman's bedding was "heavily soiled," according to the report. Relatives say Sharp was forced to use the bathroom in a bucket.

Sharp, who relatives said functions at about the same level as a 3-year-old child, looked as if she weighed about 80 pounds on July 2, the day of the inspection, according to the report. Since the July 15 arrest, Sharp has been cared for by her sister and by her aunt, Joyce Cayton.

"She weighs 115 pounds now, and I'm proud of that," Cayton said Thursday outside the courtroom.

Sharp loves listening to music and dancing, Cayton said. Since she's been out of the Headricks' house, Sharp has seemed happier, Cayton said.

"She smiles, she carries on, she loves attention," Cayton said. "And I try to give it to her every time."

Yet Cayton is not happy that both her sister and brother-in-law were charged with abuse. She believes Kenneth Headrick was responsible for the majority of the alleged abuse, while her just sister failed to stop it.

"She should have stepped up and said, hey, my daughter isn't going to be using the bathroom in her bedroom," Cayton said. "She could have said that, but she was sort of scared of him, too."

The case will go to a grand jury in the next six or eight weeks.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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