Deputies: Autistic child locked in cage inside home

JONESBOROUGH, TN (WJHL) – The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a case of child abuse and neglect after deputies say they were asked to check on an autistic child inside a Jonesborough home.

Sheriff Ed Graybeal says deputies made the welfare check at a home located on Miller Crossing Road around 5:00 p.m. on Monday.

Deputies said they met the homeowners — Mickey Sparks, age 69, and Patricia Laws, age 43. Deputies told the man and woman they had received information that a child was kept in a cage at the home.

Deputies report, when they entered the bedroom of the home they found a locked wooden cage on a mattress and a child inside. Deputies reported the cage smelled of urine and feces.

Deputies also stated they discovered the child was 10 years old and autistic. In addition, deputies say three other children lived in the home.

According to the sheriff’s office, the Department of Children’s Services responded and removed the children from the home.

Sparks and Laws were both arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect. Both are currently behind bars at the Washington County Detention Center on a bond of $50,000 each.

An arraignment hearing is set for Tuesday in the Washington County General Sessions Court. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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