CHUCKEY, Tenn. - An argument over some neighborhood kittens ends with tomatoes being thrown and two women filing simple assault complaints against each other.
Norma Ricker, 71, and her husband, Walter, have lived at their house on Chuckey Highway for 38 years. They share part of their garden with their neighbor, 28-year-old Rachel Price. "I thought the world of her. I would have given her the shirt off my back. Not now I wouldn't," Ricker said.
Ricker told the Greene County Sheriff's Department she was tending her crops Friday afternoon when she was approached by Price and they got into an argument, which became physical with green tomatoes being thrown. "She reached down, got a big one and slapped me upside the jaw with it," said Ricker.
According to the offense report, Ricker said Price hit her on the arm with a tobacco stick causing minor injuries. "She got a tomato vine, yanked it up and starting swinging it around, over her head as hard as she could," Ricker explained. "She had her face puckered up. I've never seen someone look so mad. I told her she looked like the devil."
Price gave police a similar statement. She said Ricker hit her with the tobacco stick, causing minor injuries to her foot. "If she got hit on the foot, she hit herself because I didn't have a tobacco stick," Ricker said.
Price declined an interview and said she had no comment about the incident.
Walter Ricker installed posts and string outlining the border of the property after the fight on Friday. However, he said when they woke up Tuesday morning, the posts were gone. They reported the theft to police and installed new posts.
The Rickers said the argument had actually started a few days beforehand over some kittens in the neighborhood. The Rickers were feeding them and the Prices said they wanted the cats off their property. "They said if you don't get them, we'll get them, catch them or kill them. I said, 'okay if that's the way you feel, it's over between us. You stay on your side of the fence and we'll stay on ours,'" Ricker said.
The Rickers said the garden will remain divided while they decide if they're going to press charges. "I'm so down. I'm hurt. I'm really hurt over what's happened," Walter Ricker said.
According to the police report, no formal charges have been filed, but police explained to both neighbors warrant and civil procedures.