Man arrested on aggravated assault charge   

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  An Elizabethton man has been arrested for aggravated assault following an investigation by the Carter County Sheriff's Department into the alleged neglect of an 80-year-old woman found covered in feces and maggots on June 6.
  Larani Loren Pearce, 36, 118 Cunningham St., was arrested Thursday morning by CCSD deputies Kenny Cornett and Jim Whaley on a warrant charging him with aggravated assault.
  Deputies arrived at the residence Thursday but found the house vacant according to Cornett's report. Deputies reported finding Pearce asleep in a wooded area behind the residence.
  The aggravated assault warrant charges Loren Pearce with alleged willful physical abuse or gross neglect of an impaired adult. The warrant was taken out by CCSD Investigator Laverne Julian following an investigation initiated June 6 when CCSD Sgt. Keith Range reported Helen Pearce, 80, inside the Cunningham Street residence in need of medical care.
  Julian's investigation reported finding Helen Pearce lying on a small bed covered with a blanket and flies swarming around her body. She had a large abscess on her back and told police she had not been taken to the bathroom "in about a week" according to the report.
  She reportedly told police her grandson, Loren Pearce, took care of her. Julian reported a check of the house found no food in the kitchen but found a quantity of beer in the refrigerator.
  Witnesses told Range that Loren Pearce had fled the residence prior to the deputies' arrival. Police later found Loren Pearce and a man identified as Earl J. Johnson, 48, in a wooded area near the residence. Pearce told police he had been living with his grandmother for several years and was "going to call for help" according to Julian's report. Johnson told police he had been living at the residence for one week.
  Helen Pearce was transported to Sycamore Shoals Hospital for treatment. Police also notified adult protective services division of the state Department of Health and Human Services.
  Loren Pearce and Johnson were both arrested on a charge of public intoxication on the night of June 6. Johnson was arrested last week by the CCSD and charged with failure to report abuse under state welfare laws.