Unicoi County

Unicoi Co. sheriff: Young children found unattended; adults passed out on drugs

Unicoi County Child Neglect

UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. - Three people are facing charges after Unicoi County authorities said they found four children unattended near a home with drugs inside.

We learned the investigation began Sunday afternoon after a concerned citizen saw the children and called dispatch. News 5 found two sides of the story.

Four children between the ages of four and ten were taken from a home on Viss Honeycutt Road Sunday after police reports stated two children were running outside unattended. "They were near a county road. They were unclothed," said Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley.

Sheriff Hensley told us he believes their care was sacrificed for a drug fix.

Hensley said grandparents of the children, Gordon Lyon, Tammy Lyon, and Jill Wheeler, were passed out inside the home. When officers arrived on the scene, they found drugs. "There was morphine in the residence, [and] trazadone, [and] Xanax," said Unicoi County investigator Matthew McNally.

McNally said over 10 grams of marijuana were also found, along with needles, pipes, and straws. Investigators said all three suspects were under the influence.

We talked to Gordon Lyon shortly after he was released from jail and asked him to give us his side of the story. Lyon said one of the children had an accident and they didn't have any diapers. "My daughter left to go get clothes for him. In the meantime, he snuck back out again on me," Lyon told News 5.

We asked about the drug allegations. "I can't afford to have drugs in my system, and no, I don't know what they found," Lyon said.

He said the charges placed against him are an insult, and his home is safe for kids; though Sheriff Hensley disagrees. "These kids do not need to be in an environment like that. They don't deserve that, and we're got going to tolerate it," said Hensley.

More facts on this case: Tammy Lyon is charged with child neglect and drug charges.

Gordon Lyon and Jill Wheeler are charged with child neglect, aggravated child endangerment and drug charges.

We're told the children are now in the custody of the Department of Children's Services.  

The sheriff told us Gordon Lyon and Tammy Lyon both had previous bookings in the Unicoi County Jail for drug charges.

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