Morristown 2-year-old drowns in pond, grandmother charged with abuse

Rosa Margarita Rea, 61 (Hamblen County Sheriff's Office)

MORRISTOWN (WATE) – A woman in Morristown was charged with neglect after her 2-year-old grandson was found dead in a pond.

The Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office said they were dispatched just before 7 p.m. Saturday to a home at 602 Parker Road in Morristown for a missing person. Rosa Margarita Rea, 61, said her grandson, Joseph Williams, was working on the floor in the living room of their house when she noticed he was not there. Rea had custody of the child.

Rea told deputies she looked for over an hour before calling 911. The warrant said the child wondered off several times in the past, but was always found by neighbors.

Neighbors said the toddler was prone to wandering off, and they helped search.

“I was waiting for him just to pop out of the woods somewhere, dirty little face,” neighbor Audrey Wilkin said.

Wilkin said she thought about the pond right away and told deputies.

Deputies searched the field behind the house and found the 2-year-old in that pond .24 miles from the home. The boy was rushed to an ambulance, but deputies said the medic told them the boy had died.

“I asked, ‘How is he?’ He said, ‘We don’t know yet.’ He said, ‘It’s probably best you go home.’ I did. I went home, and within a few minutes I heard the neighbor screaming,” Wilkin said. “I’ve never heard anything like that.”

The sheriff’s office said Rea was taken into custody Sunday morning charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect. Her bond was set at $500,000.

Family members told WATE 6 On Your Side they are still trying to figure out what went wrong and why charges were filed.

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