Woman arrested after neighbors report neglect

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
A city woman was arrested shortly before noon Wednesday following a two-week investigation that began when neighbors told police they were concerned about the safety of the woman's child.
Terri Needham, 27, 431 W. G St., Apt. 7, was taken into custody by Elizabethton Police Department Ptl. Kelly Mullins on warrants taken out by EPD Det. Anthony Buck charging her with attempted child neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
According to police, on Jan. 19, EPD Ptl. Mark Roberts was dispatched to the apartment complex at 431 W. G St., on a call of possible child neglect. Roberts spoke with several neighbors, and all of them said Needham would frequently leave her four-year-old son by himself at the apartment.
Neighbors said they found the child wandering alone outside on several occasions, sometimes after midnight. One neighbor said she found the child roaming in the hallway of the apartment complex around 11:30 p.m. during the week before Christmas (Dec. 14-20, 2003). She also said she and other neighbors knocked on the door of Neeham's apartment that day and no one answered. The neighbor said that, earlier in the afternoon, she saw Needham "snorting pills which had been turned to powder and drinking beer," Buck said in a police report.
The neighbor said she took the child to her own apartment and kept him there until around 11 a.m. the next morning. She told police that, while in her care, the boy made some "disturbing comments" that led her to believe he was being sexually abused, Roberts' report said.
Another resident of the apartment complex told police that Neeham "was constantly hosting loud parties late into the night", and "there was much drug activity and drinking in the presence of the child" as well as a lot of screaming and stomping, according to Roberts' report. "On one occasion she heard Terri scream at the child, 'Get the f*** back in your room!,'".
That resident also told police she saw Needham put her son outside the apartment when a male visitor arrived and left the boy there for one hour until the visitor left.
According to Buck, the investigation revealed Needham's son was "left without supervision on many occasions."
On Feb. 2, a juvenile female who lives in the apartment complex told Buck that Needham had given her a pill approximately a week earlier and that she gave it to her mother. The juvenile's mother gave Buck the pill, which was identified as blood pressure medication.
Based on witnesses' statements, Buck took a warrant out for Needham's arrest charging her with attempted child neglect. He took an additional warrant out charging her with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for the incident where she reportedly gave the juvenile female a tablet of prescription medication.
Needham is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on Feb. 9.