A Tennessee couple faces charges after allegedly abusing a 9-year-old girl in their care — including forcing her to drink out of the toilet and sleep in the bathtub, multiple outlets report.
The female suspect, Trish Piatt, 30, allegedly told the child to “go ahead and kill herself,” an affidavit shows, localmemphis.com reports.
On Thursday, after a nearly three-month investigation, Trish Piatt and the male suspect, Jesse Piatt, 37, both of Millington, were arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect, online records show.
Officials in Shelby County began investigating the couple in January after a teacher at the girl’s school told police the child had tried to steal food from her, court records obtained by Fox13 Memphis show.
The girl told the responding officer that the suspects allegedly made her sleep in the bathtub and also sleep outside without a blanket, according to court records obtained by WREG.
The couple would allegedly serve her dry ramen noodles and once gave her a hot dog roll to eat while others in the home ate spaghetti, the court records state.
The child told the teacher she wanted to move so she could “sleep in a warm bed, take hot showers, and have good meals,” the records state.
The girl allegedly came to school in dirty clothes and sneakers that were too big for her, the records state. A police report described her as “very thin,” according to the records.
The child’s head was bald in one spot because, she said, Trish Piatt allegedly shaved her hair off when she was angry with her, the records state.
When authorities questioned Jesse Piatt, he allegedly told them that he believes the child is mentally ill, and that he wanted to send the child to a mental health facility out of fear “she would kill them as they slept,” the records state.
He also allegedly said she slept in the tub because she refused to sleep in her room, the records state, adding that the child’s teeth hadn’t been brushed in a year because he and Trish Piatt were “unable to make her do anything.”
Doctor Alleges ‘Child Abuse by Torture’
A doctor who examined the child told authorities she had “concerns about child abuse by torture,” the records show.
“The child’s behaviors and disclosures were all indicative of nutritional neglect, medical neglect, and psychological abuse as well as physical abuse,” the records show. “Descriptions of [the] treatment are consistent with torture and [the doctor] believes [the child] is at high risk for serious psychological problems as a result of [the] abuse, as well as death…”
The girl has since been placed in foster care, the court records state.
She “has since gained weight, her hair has grown back, she sleeps in a bed, and now seems to be a happy, now 10-year-old child,” the records state.
The couple has not yet entered a plea.
Trish Piatt is scheduled to appear in court for her arraignment on Tuesday. Jesse Piatt has not yet been scheduled for his arraignment.
It is unclear whether the pair has retained attorneys who can comment on their behalf.