Children found blocked in daycare attic

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

A Knox County daycare owner has been accused of leaving five children unattended in a hot attic. Larinda Tuttle, 38, has been charged with criminal abuse. Her husband had a certain gesture for WYMT. His actions landed him in jail and he was charged with disorderly conduct and behind bars as well.

Police said officials from the Office of the Inspector General contacted them when no one answered the door at the daycare on Friday before 3 p.m.

Police said when they finally got in, they found five young children blocked in an attic with no adults, all in a daycare which was allegedly being operated by the owner without a license.

“The officers we have been working with today who have had longer experience that I have -- have never seen or heard of anything like this,” said Det. Steve Owens of the Barbourville Police Department.

Chief Mike Broughton echoed the same sentiment.

“You never know what you are going to find,” said Broughton.
“I have never seen anything like it.”

Police described the situation at Great Start Daycare in Barbourville as “unsanitary” and “unsafe.”

“It is very disturbing that there would be children this young in such an environment,” said Owens.

Owens said an inspector who came to the daycare to do a routine check after reports of the business operating illegally, she came to them when no one would answer the door and said she heard children inside.

Police said they identified themselves and knocked on the door for around fifteen minutes before a 16-year-old boy answered the door. When asked why he had not answered, he told them he “was afraid.”

Owens said he told officers that no one else was inside of the building, but after hearing noises, they searched the premises and found a blocked passage way to the attic.

“There were several baby beds, cribs in a disorderly fashion that made it difficult for officers to access the ladder to get into the attic,” said Owens.

Owens said an officer happened to spot a passage way which opened a stairwell to the room. Police said five young children were in the 102 degree attic.

“The children were very scared, very distraught,” said Owens.

“There were several boards that were laying out that had nails exposed on the floor, there was wiring hanging loose, broken glass and some dead animals that we located up there,” said Owens.

Police charged Larinda Tuttle with five counts of criminal abuse in the first degree. She did not want to talk, but her husband made an obscene gesture at one of our reporters.

After the incident, both of the Tuttles wound up in jail. Police said while they do not believe Darrell Tuttle had anything to do with the incident at the daycare, he was charged with disorderly conduct.

“He became quite angry at the time that we were transporting his wife to the jail and which caused him to create a disturbance,” said Owens.

Larinda Tuttle will be in Knox County District Court on Monday at 9 a.m. She is being held in the Knox County Jail on a $10,000 cash bond. Darrell Tuttle is being held on a $2,500 surety bond.

All of those children are now back with their families and no injuries were reported.

The daycare has been shut down.

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