Sparta woman indicted in death of son with Down syndrome

Posted at 3:25 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 16:25:09-04

SPARTA, Tenn. (WTVF) — A woman in White County has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge in the death of her adult son with special needs.

White County District Attorney Bryant Dunaway said Betty Ann Stafford is accused of neglecting and mistreating her 42-year-old son with Down syndrome, of whom she was a caretaker.

Dunaway said her son, Mark Stafford, weighed 54 pounds when he died. An autopsy revealed that his death was caused by severe malnutrition and sepsis associated with severe sores on his body.

A White County Grand Jury later indicted Stafford on charges of aggravated neglect of a vulnerable adult, a class and first-degree felony murder.

She was arrested on Friday and booked into the White County Jail.

Investigators say Stafford may have been the caretaker of older elder and vulnerable adults. Contact the Sparta Police Department if you are aware of any other potential victims of neglect or abuse.