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Investigation underway after death of 14-year-old boy in Bartlett home

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 10:15 PM CDT
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BARTLETT, Tenn. (WMC) - The Tennessee Department of Children’s services is now part of the investigation into the starvation death of a 14-year-old boy.

The investigation centers around a Bartlett home where 10 children and eight adults lived.

“I’m shocked,” said Richard Wagaman, Jr.

Wagaman says he’s shocked by what investigators say happened in his Bartlett neighbor’s house, but he figured something was up.

“Monday or Tuesday the whole street was blocked with police,” he said.

The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office announced eight adults who lived in the house were indicted on first-degree murder charges related to the starvation death of the boy who was found dead on the living room floor. However, the charges against the 60-year-old mother of the adults were dismissed because investigators discovered she died in May.

Investigators say the boy weighed 60 pounds. His 12-year-old sister was discovered in the home malnourished with patterned bruising on her body. Investigators say two sisters in the house had five children each, adding up to the 10. The youngest child is six. They are all now in foster care.

Neighbors said the family mostly stayed inside the house and did not socialize.

" You’d wave your hand up, nobody would talk to you,” said one neighbor.

Sources say the children were home-schooled and the 14-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister were forced to sleep in the garage. The rest of the children slept in beds in bedrooms and the house was orderly.

Neighbors say the family has lived in the house for just under two years. It is owned by a company located in Scottsdale, Arizona, according to the property assessor’s website. The seven adults are behind bars on $250,000 bond.

Investigators are trying to figure out the family dynamic. They’re talking with the adults and children to piece together what was going on inside that Bartlett house.

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