Parents keep toddler in cage near 10-foot boa constrictor snake, insist it was ‘safe’

Three adults in Tennessee accused of forcing a toddler to live in a rat and maggot-filled filthy cage with a 10-foot boa constrictor, have claimed it was the safest place for him to be.

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The one-year-old child’s parents, TJ Brown, 46, and Heather Scarborough, 42, were taken into custody back in June after they were charged with aggravated child abuse and animal cruelty.

Grandfather Charles Brown, 82, was taken into custody but has since been released on bond.

Last week, a preliminary hearing saw investigators detail the vile living conditions the family subjected the toddler to, describing their Henry County, Tennessee-based trailer as “ludicrous”.

The boy’s mum, Heather Scarbrough, has been arrested (Image: Henry County Sheriff’s Office)

The court heard that the property, which was located on a remote patch of land about 100 miles west of Nashville, had cockroaches crawling across the floor and stank of feces and ammonia.

The toddler’s guardians had placed him in a caged kennel, where he spent his days sat alongside urine-soaked clothes, maggots and rats.

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On Thursday, the defense argued that the kennel was only a playpen for the child who was part of a lower-income family, WKRN reported.

A shocking photo shows the little boy living in a tiny ‘kennel’ (Image: Henry County Sheriff’s Office)
However, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office’s chief investigator has stated that there’s a “big difference” in comparing the cage, which was only 4×4, to a playplen.

The unnamed chief stated: “When I put a child in a playpen, there are not eight snakes, hundreds of rats and hamsters and mice up against the cage, there’s no cockroaches in the cage, there are not urine-soaked clothes in the cage, I mean, there’s a big difference”.

He detailed that all three of the arrested suspects told police that they believed the cage was indeed the safest place for the child to be within that trailer, considering the environment they were in, to which he agreed.

Investigators were horrified by what they found in the trailer (Image: Henry County Sheriff’s Office)

The horrifying conditions consisted of a maggot and cockroach-infested cage, with three buckets of mice right next to it, and a gigantic 10-foot boa constrictor only three feet away.

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As well as this, it was revealed during the hearing that a whopping 56 dogs, 531 rodents, 86 chickens, 10 rabbits, eight snakes, four parakeets, three cats, one pheasant and one gecko were removed from the property.

Police received reports of animal neglect back in June, and arrived at the Tennessee trailer only to discover the one-year-old boy in a cage.

Henry County Sheriff, Monte Belew revealed that there were dozens of dogs running around the property, as well as eight snakes living in the same room as the young child.

The Sheriff stated: “With all of the law enforcement experience up here, it’s hard to find something that actually shocks us.

“I’ve never seen this before, and I can guarantee the gentlemen up here with me have never seen this before.”

He continued to describe the home, explaining that it was “unliveable” and that certain parts of the trailer had no flooring.

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WTVF reported that Animal Rescue Corps worker Michael Cunnigham said the trailer’s tanks “were completely filled to the top with feces”, adding “it was a complete mess”.

The child tested positive for THC (marijuana) testified a Tennessee Department of Children’s Services investigator, who also revealed that they had found over 100 marijuana plants at the home, as well as 17 semi-automatic guns.

Charles Brown, who owns the property in question and has already been released on bond, waived his rights to a preliminary hearing on Thursday and is set to be arraigned on November 9.

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