Police say a 63-year-old New Tazewell man with mental and physical disabilities died because of the "intentional neglect and abuse" of his caretakers.
Johnny Monday Rhodes and his wife, Sharon Marie Smith, were arrested Friday night, according to a release from New Tazewell Police Detective Wayne Mewhinney.
The couple is charged with first-degree murder and physical abuse and gross neglect of an impaired adult, who was the uncle of Johnny Rhodes.
Mewhinney reports that the couple had power of attorney for and were caretakers of 63-year-old Arville Rhodes, who had been physically and mentally disabled since childhood. Rhodes and Smith cared for Arville Rhodes since January, 2008, Mewhinney said.
Arville Rhodes died of dehydration, starvation, bilateral bronchopneumonia and multiple decubitus ulcers. He also had blunt trauma to the head, according to Mewhinney.
The police launched an investigation after Arville Rhodes' death on Nov. 22, 2011, and later presented the case to the Claiborne County grand jury.
Mewhinney says the investigation took quite some time because the autopsy results did not come back until the end of February 2012, and investigators had to get subpoenas for many of the records as well as conduct interviews with several people.
Rhodes and Smith's rented house on Old Highway 33 is surrounded by old vehicles, tires and various types of debris. A neighbor, who declined to be identified, said he took food to the couple on several occasions and noticed similar conditions inside the house.
According to the grand jury's indictment, Rhodes and Smith "intentionally and with premeditation killed Arville Rhodes" and did "physically abuse and grossly neglect" him.
Rhodes and Smith were arrested Friday and taken to the Claiborne County jail, where they were each being held on a $250,000 bond. They are due in court August 6th.