Child with autism found locked in cage, deputies say

Mickey Sparks, age 69, and Patricia Laws, age 43. (WJHL | Washington County Sheriff's Office)

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Washington County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s Office is investigating a case of child abuse and neglect after deputies say they were asked to check on a child with autism 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 that 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.

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.

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