CHATTANOOGA - Parents of three children have been charged with child neglect and the father has been charged with criminal homicide after a baby died in a hot car Saturday.
Police say two Major Crimes Investigators arrived on scene to investigate the death of an 11-month-old infant. Chattanooga Police Homicide investigators determined the baby's father, Travis McCullough, to be a suspect. Through an investigation, officers determined the baby died after being left in an unattended vehicle for an extended period on a day where temperatures were above 80 degrees.
Officials say another family member arrived on scene with two more children. Investigators say the two children appeared to be suffering from neglect symptoms. One of the children had bruising on both eyes and an abrasion to his forehead and smelled strongly of urine.
The children were transported to a local hospital for evaluation and checked by medical personnel. The affidavit says one of the children had multiple scars and healing wounds on his back, buttocks, and legs. One of the larger marks on his back appeared to look like a belt or other object and was still wearing pull-up diapers and was non-verbal. When given food, both children ate quickly and were very protective of the food as though they had not eaten recently.
Consent was obtained to search the family residence and investigators found the living conditions were atrocious. One of the rooms was covered in urine and feces. There was only one bed and one crib inside the residence. The refrigerator and freezer were basically empty with no food for the children.
Police say 24-year old, Jessica Tollett, the children's mother, told police that her, McCullough and the three children have lived at the residence for about a year. She admitted that they were on food stamps but were running low on food and would not be able to get more until the 17th.
Tollett told police that they would use a belt to punish the children when they got into trouble. Tollett also stated that one of her children had not seen a doctor since they were two years old which was a result of his obvious developmental delays.
Tollett stated she no longer wanted to answer questions with police and asked for an attorney.
Officials say based on the living conditions, lack of medical care, lack of food, and visible injuries on the children Tollett was arrested on three counts of aggravated child abuse or neglect.
Her bond was set at $300,000. McCullough was charged with criminal homicide and three counts of aggravated child neglect. His bond was set at $700,000.
Child Protective Services will take custody of the two other children once they are medically cleared. The official cause of death for the infant will be determined by the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's office through autopsy.
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