Five children, ages 7 to 13, were neglected and denied medical care by their parents, Robert H. Simons III and Mary Ella Tittle. The children’s grandmother, Roberta Sauls, knew about the neglect and did nothing. A woman who lived with the family, Leona Patricia Bentler, also knew about the neglect and did nothing. Her 8-year-old daughter was also neglected. Simons and Tittle evaded social services for years, telling officials in Tennessee that they were homeschooling in Pennsylvania, and telling officials in Pennsylvania that they were homeschooling in Tennessee. Although Tittle tried to teach the kids what little she knew, she was not successful and the children could not read or write, did not know their ages or last names, and could not brush their teeth or hold a pencil.
The oldest girl was suffering from advanced kidney disease and an infected rat bite when an anonymous tip brought social services to the door. She recovered after a kidney transplant and the children began to attend school in their foster home. Simons and Tittle were each found guilty on two counts of aggravated child neglect. Simons was sentenced to 18 years in prison; Tittle got 17 years. Charges against Bentler were dropped.
Date: April 22, 2010
Location: Jonesborough, Tennessee