A woman in Tennessee was arrested after allegedly faking the death of her 12-year-old autistic son and reportedly leaving him in a motel room.
The woman, who police identified as 39-year-old Vanessa Blanchard, is facing charges in the city of Clarksville, Tennessee for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and giving a “false impression of death” according to local TV news reports.
According to an arrest warrant in the case first obtained by local outlet WKRN, Blanchard was first approached in late October by a school resource officer from her son’s middle school who was inquiring about his absence from class. At that point, Blanchard allegedly told the officer that her son “died from a seizure two days earlier.”
Now, police know that was not the case, but at the time, the news stunned the boy’s classmates. A parent of another student in the class, Alicia Maslo, explained how awful the (now known as false) report of the child’s death was for the other kids:
“The kids were so upset the teachers were crying on the phone to the parent. My son came home bawling his eyes out, hugging me, talking about how he couldn’t believe he was gone. He was like, ‘I just saw him, I don’t understand why he’s gone.'”
After the school heard about the boy’s alleged death, his classmates started to raise money to pay for his funeral at a local mortuary. School officials eventually contacted the funeral home to donate the funds, but Blanchard’s ruse was discovered after the funeral home reported they had never heard of the boy, and no funeral arrangements had been made. The school supposedly then reached out to Blanchard, who told them that the boy’s autopsy was “still pending.”
The case came to a head more than two weeks later, on November 16, when the boy’s school-issued laptop was discovered to be active at a local motel in the Clarksville area. When police arrived at the motel to see what was going on, they discovered the boy alive and alone inside a motel room, according to WSMV.