Two family members arrested in January death of grandmother

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   Officers from the Carter County Sheriff's Department arrested a 33-year-old woman and her husband and charged them in connection with the January death of the woman's elderly grandmother.
   Melinda Ann Carden, 121 Garrison Hollow Road, was arrested Monday afternoon after a grand jury handed down an indictment charging her with willful neglect or abuse. Her husband, Charles Curtis Carden, 36, of the same address, was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon on a grand jury indictment charging him with the same offense.
   The couple was charged following an investigation into the death of Felma Jones, 77, who resided with the couple at their residence on Garrison Hollow Road. According to reports, Jones was found unresponsive by family members in the basement of that residence on Jan. 9 of this year. Family members then called 911, and emergency workers were dispatched to the scene.
   Rescue personnel found Jones lying on a bed without sheets or blankets. The police report states that Jones was covered with flies and was lying in feces and urine. Maggots were also found in the bed with her. She also had two large open wounds on her back, which appeared to be infected. Jones was found to be dehydrated and somewhat emaciated, according to reports.
   Jones was transported to Sycamore Shoals Hospital for treatment for her injuries. According to reports, she died a short time after arriving at the hospital.
   At the time of the incident, Carter County Sheriff John Henson described the death as "suspicious" and ordered an autopsy to be performed and an investigation conducted into the death. "I've seen a lot of things in the 32 years that I've been here, but this is a really aggravated situation," Henson said.
   Mr. and Mrs. Carden were charged with willful neglect or abuse, which is a Class C felony. According to the Tennessee Code Annotated, willful abuse or neglect is defined as the "willful physical abuse or gross neglect of an impaired adult with resulting serious mental or physical harm." According to the indictment, the abuse had been going on for approximately three months.
   The two are scheduled to appear in Criminal Court on May 30 to face that charge.