Jonesborough parents charged with child neglect for keeping children living in squalor, deputies say

Becky Campbell • Updated Jun 3, 2019 at 11:36 PM

A child’s phone call to 911 because the parents were fighting led to the arrest of both adults on child neglect and other related charges, according to court documents.

Richard Thayer, 36, 447 Matson Road, Jonesborough, was arrested after his oldest child made the 3:50 a.m. call on May 25 because, according to an affidavit, Thayer and the mother of the children, Tara Watts, were fighting and Thayer had allegedly pointed a handgun at Watts’ head while two of the children were in the same room.

Thayer and Watts lived there with four children, ages 15, 10, 9 and 7.

When Washington County Sheriff Deputies Michael Gardner II, Jackie Moncier and Tim Moore arrived at the scene, they spoke to Thayer and Watts and determined Thayer was the primary aggressor. He was arrested on one count of domestic assault and three counts of reckless endangerment.

But as officers continued the investigation, they went inside the residence and reported finding unsanitary and unfit living conditions throughout.

“There were large amounts of clutter, filth, animal feces and improperly disposed trash in every room,” Gardner wrote in a court document. “A loaded Highpoint .380 caliber handgun allegedly used in the (domestic) incident was located unsecured on a turned over couch in the living room. The only bathtub in the residence was unserviceable due to standing water and a large amount of clothes piled inside.”

Court records also indicated there were hazardous conditions outside the residence as well.

Because of what deputies found, the case was referred to the Department of Children’s Services for an investigation. According to court documents, the living conditions inside the residence had affected the children’s health, and officers said Watts called the structure “an old farm house and it was falling apart.”

Thayer was being held on a $40,000 bond and Watts was held on a $20,000 bond. If they make bond, both were ordered to stay away from their children.