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STAFFORD INDICTED FOR FIRST-DEGREE MURDER IN WHITE COUNTY AFTER ALLEGEDLY STARVING SON TO DEATH

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A White County woman has been indicted by a grand jury for first-degree murder and aggravated neglect of a vulnerable adult.

On February 15, 2019, investigators with the Sparta Police Department began an investigation into the alleged neglect and mistreatment of 42-year-old Mark Christopher Stafford by his mother, Betty Ann Stafford. Mark, who had Downs Syndrome, was a vulnerable adult and his mother was his caretaker. Mark was reported deceased by his mother several hours after his death. Upon responding to the residence, officers and medics found Mark Stafford to be deceased.

Mark Stafford was sent to the medical examiner for an autopsy. His death was caused by severe malnutrition and sepsis associated with severe sores on his body. Mark Stafford weighed 54 pounds at his death.

Investigators with the District Attorney General’s Office joined with investigators with the Sparta Police Department who worked together to further the investigation into the death of Mark Stafford.

The results of the investigation were presented to the White County Grand Jury on May 21, 2020. After hearing proof, the grand jury issued indictments against Betty Ann Stafford for first-degree murder and aggravated neglect of a vulnerable adult.

Betty Ann Stafford was arrested this past Friday (May 22, 2020) by the Sparta Police Department.

The investigation is on-going. Information has come to light that Betty Ann Stafford may have acted as the caretaker of other elder and vulnerable adults. The public is asked to contact the District Attorney General’s Office or the Sparta Police Department if you are aware of any other potential victims of neglect or abuse by Betty Ann Stafford. Tennessee state law requires reporting of suspected abuse of a vulnerable or elderly adult. Call 1-888-APS-TENN (277-8366).

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