Morgan County sheriff and District Attorney dispute handling of child death investigation

Sheriff Glen Freytag

WARTBURG (WATE) – The District Attorney’s office in Morgan County and the Sheriff’s Department have been re-hashing the details of the suspicious death of Morgan County boy.

There has been a lot of confusion in regard to the timeline of who knew what in regard to the death of 17-month-old baby Levy.

Previous story: TBI investigating 17-month-old child’s suspicious death in Morgan County

The district attorney said the sheriff’s department failed to notify him or the medical examiner, and the sheriff said they didn’t have all the information. We sat down with the sheriff to find out whether protocol was followed, and if more should have been done.

According to the incident report, when officer Trevor Shadden responded to the Wartburg Apartment at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday June 1 for a choking call, the child was motionless and a gray color. It’s the same description first responder Dustin Bonham gave.

“He was in bad shape when I got there,” First Responder Dustin Bonham said.

The child’s mother and boyfriend said the child choked on a cookie, according to the report. But neither the officer nor first responder found any evidence.

“I never saw any traces of a cookie or anything like that,” Bonham said of the call.

According to the autopsy, the child died an hour later at the hospital, and despite the suspicious circumstances, the district attorney was not notified, nor was the medical examiner. But Sheriff Glen Freytag says they had no reason to suspect foul play.

“There were no outward marks or bruises or anything like that,” Freytag said.

An autopsy report showed the child died from multiple blunt force injuries, recent and healing. At 8 a.m. Monday morning, the University of Tennessee Medical Center informed the sheriff’s department an autopsy would be performed. That was 12 hours after the child’s death.

At 10 a.m., 14 hours after the child’s death, the district attorney called the sheriff and asked about the situation, saying he would request the involvement of TBI.

According to a letter from District Attorney General Russell Johnson to the TBI, the DA says the sheriff’s department failed to collect evidence and secure the crime scene, but the sheriff says protocol was followed.

“If you’re not aware of a crime scene, you just have a child with a medical condition, and the person who calls it in says they were choking, then that’s all you have.”

Web extra: Morgan County Sheriffs Office incident report (PDF)

But the people who called it in, the child’s mother and the mother’s boyfriend, were previously under investigation by DCS. The child was just returned to her custody three weeks before his death.

According to the letter from the District Attorney, DCS investigated an incident in November and removed Levy from his mother’s custody. DCS spokesperson Rob Johnson said he could not talk about specifics about the case, but said the mother and her boyfriend were under investigation from DCS. He could not say whether the child had been checked on in the three weeks prior to his death because of the ongoing investigation.

“We didn’t have knowledge of what DCS was doing with this situation with this family,” Sheriff Freytag said.

6 News learned that’s not true. A sheriff’s department investigator was at the home in November, when the child was removed from his mother’s custody, but because there was no evidence to support a criminal act, a report was never filed.”We done everything we were supposed to,” said Sheriff Freytag.

Questions have been raised about whether the lack of evidence collected would hinder the TBI’s investigation but a spokesperson for the agency said they do not believe it will have an affect on the case. No arrests have been made at this time.

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