Criminal complaints show the Madisonville mother charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect has a prior criminal history.
Krystal Stricklan Warwick and Michael Warwick were arrested and charged after their 5-year-old son was found wandering in the street late Friday. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said the two were later released after posting a $4,000 bail.
The boy was found off of College Street near City Hall in Madisonville around 10:20 p.m. Friday. Madisonville Police detectives went to the boy's home and found no one there. They described the home as "ungodly," noting the presence of maggots, rotting food and mice scurrying around.
Court records show this is not Stricklan Warwick’s first encounter with the law.
In June 2013, Stricklan Warwick was charged with driving under the influence with a suspended license. According to the criminal complaint, Stricklan Warrwick had her four children in the car at the time. She was charged with four counts of reckless endangerment.
For legal reasons, the Department of Children’s Services could not comment on Stricklan Warwick’s criminal history or ongoing child abuse and neglect charges. But Rob Johnson, communications director for the department, said each case he sees is heartbreaking.
“We work with families every day, in every community in the state, families where there’s been a lot of trauma, families where there’s been history of abuse and violence … and it’s tough work,” Johnson said.
In the state of Tennessee, juvenile courts decide whether or not parents can keep their children. Johnson said investigators consider the parent's criminal history of abuse or neglect.
"Each case is different and sometimes you are able to reunite a child successfully. Sometimes parents are able to convince the department and courts that they've turned a corner, but I think all of us know, sadly, that doesn't happen," he said.
In a case where a child is not safe, they are removed from the home. The department’s first choice is to place them with a relative, otherwise they turn to foster care.
But, once a case is closed, the department said it doesn't continue to follow up with families.
"We just can't do that. We don't have those kinds of resources, nor should the government be perpetually prying into people's family lives," Johnson said.
According to Madisonville police, the 5-year-old boy is being cared for by the Department of Children's Services.
To report a case of child abuse or neglect, call the Child Abuse Hotline at 877-237-0004.