Father charged in death of 11-month-old, mother charged with child neglect

Chattanooga Police are investigating after they say a baby was found dead on Tunnel Blvd Saturday (IMAGE: WTVC / Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)

UPDATE (Nov. 14th):

Travis McCullough appeared in court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

At the end of that hearing, the judge bound the case over to a grand jury.

Depend on us to keep you posted on this case.


Travis McCullough is accused of leaving his 11-month old daughter Kiara and his other two children in a hot car for hours. In an affidavit obtained by NewsChannel 9, police say McCullough dropped the children's mother- Jessica Tollett- off at work, then went to The Buffalo Shack on Tunnel Boulevard.

Police say McCullough asked the owner of The Buffalo shack, his father, for $20 for gas. The Shack's owner said that McCullough could work for the money instead. McCullough's father told police that McCullough had tried to work with the children in the car in the past, but was not allowed to do so and had no idea the children were in the car at the time.

At the scene, police say that the children appeared "dirty" and had visible bruising which led them to believe the children were neglected.

While investigating the death of baby Kiara, investigators went to the home where the children lived. At that home investigators says were "overwhelmed" by the smell of ammonia. According to CPD, the children were living in a home covered in urine, feces, and cockroaches.

Their mother, Jessica Tollet was then charged with two counts of attempted aggravated child neglect, and one count of aggravated child abuse. During her preliminary hearing on July18th, CPD officers said that the children looked like they had not been fed. One officer spoke to the low weight of the 5 year old and said his visible ribs led him to believe the child was malnourished.

During the testimony, officers said they believed a dog lived in the home, based on the dog bowl surrounded by toys. However, they found that there was no dog present in the home.

The prosecutor asked one of the CPD Officers, "These children were living like dogs, then. Because it wasn't a dog, fair to say?"

The CPD Officer agreed, "I would say so, yes. "

The father of the children is charged with criminal homicide and three counts of aggravated child neglect. His preliminary trial will be held on September 7th, 2017.

UPDATE: Police have charged a suspect with the death of an 11-month-old child found near Tunnel Boulevard.

The affidavit claims when medics arrived on scene, the baby's temperature was 106 degrees and 'insects were observed flying from the eyes, nose and mouth of the victim.'

CPD's Spokesperson says McCullough gave the infant to a bystander and then drove away to get gas with the two other kids inside the car.

She says McCullough then dropped off the two other children with a family member, who then showed back up at the scene.

Police say the children looked like they were suffering from neglect.

Officers said both children smelled strongly of urine and had several bruises and scars.

The affidavit claims when both children were given food, they ate quickly and were 'very protective of their food as though they had not eaten recently'.

The children were taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

Police were given consent to search the home where the children live and according to the affidavit, called the conditions inside the home 'atrocious'.

The affidavit claims investigators found a room covered with urine and feces. Police say there was only one bed and one crib inside the home, and there was next to no food inside the refrigerator.

According to the affidavit, Tollett told officers they were on food stamps and running low on food.

She also told officers they would use the belt to punish their children when they get in trouble.

The affidavit also claims she told officers she didn't know how the children got the marks on their bodies.

She also told officers one of the children had not seen a doctor since he was two, even though he showed signs of a developmental disability.

The affidavit claims "based on the living conditions of the home, lack of medical care, lack of food and visible injuries on the (blacked out), there is probable cause to believe that the act of aggravated child neglect has occurred."

Police are still actively investigating the incident.

We spoke to a neighbor who says she knew of the parents.

"People make mistakes," said Mahogany Williams, who also lives in the College Hill Courts apartments. "But that's one mistake that should not have been made."

Williams calls the death and the alleged abuse tragic, but says she also feels bad for the McCullough and Tollett.

"I can sympathize with them," said Williams. "It's very tragic the situation that happened with that baby being left in that car."

Kiara's surviving family members say they are making plans to raise money for her funeral expenses.


Chattanooga Police are investigating the death of a baby.

Officers say they received a call from a woman shortly after 6PM Saturday evening about an infant near the intersection of Tunnel Blvd. and Wilcox Blvd.

According to Lieutenant Jim DePrimo, when officers arrived to the scene, paramedics were already performing CPR on a four month old baby.

Police say that baby passed away on the scene.

Two other toddlers were also found on the scene, one male and one female.

It is unclear their relation to the incident.

An ambulance took both children to a local hospital where they are being evaluated.

At this time, it is too early to know whether or not foul play was involved in the death.

Family investigators and Major Crimes Investigators are currently searching for details.

You can depend on us for the latest developments.

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