MILLINGTON, TN (WMC) - Millington parents are behind bars, accused of abusing their 9-year-old daughter after the girl was caught trying to steal food from her teacher.
She confided in her 4th grade teacher at Millington Elementary School about the abuse; her teacher reported it to authorities.
The girl told police she was forced to sleep in the bathtub or outside with no blankets. She said her parents refused to feed her at home on days when she got two meals at school. She also said that if she did get food at home, it was either served to her on the floor or in the bathroom. Even then, it was always dry ramen noodles.
She also told police that her parents forced her to drink toilet water, and she didn't get to sleep in a bed.
Police also discovered a bald spot on the girl's head that she said came from her stepmother who shaved the spot because she was upset.
"We knew something was wrong over there," said a neighbor who did not wish to be identified. "When they moved in, shortly after, our kids became friends with theirs. The youngest sibling, she never came over. She was always doing yard work. She was out in the yard sometimes late at night."
The girl's father, Jesse Piatt went to the school and told police that he feared for his life and was afraid of what the child might do to him and his wife while they slept.
Piatt also told police that the child's teeth hadn't been brushed in over a year.
After the initial interview, the child chose to go to a care home instead of returning back to her parents.
Police later interviewed the child's doctor who concluded that she had concerns about child abuse by torture. The doctor observed bruises that were consistent with the child being kicked and malnourished.
The doctor also noticed injuries that had not been properly treated. For example, the doctor found a broken arm that had not healed properly. The child said that her parents did not immediately take her to the hospital for treatment, and when they did they told her to say that the family's dog knocked her down, causing the injury.
Jesse and Trish Piatt were arrested March 29. They are charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.
The child is now in the foster care system and is said to be doing much better.