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Tennessee Woman Allegedly Faked Autistic Son’s Death and Left Him Locked Alone in Hotel Room For Two Weeks

Vanessa Blanchard courtesy of MCSO

Vanessa Blanchard courtesy of MCSO

A mother in Tennessee is behind bars this week after she allegedly claimed that her 12-year-old autistic son was dead when she had actually left him locked in a hotel room for two weeks by himself. Vanessa Blanchard, 39, was taken into custody on Wednesday after her alleged ploy was discovered and charged with false impression of death and contributing to the delinquency of a child, Clarksville Now reported.

According to the report, a school resource officer (SRO) from New Providence Middle School (NPMS) called Blanchard on Oct. 29, 2021, telling her that her son had missed several weeks of school. Blanchard reportedly responded by telling the SRO that her son, whose name is not being released by authorities because he’s a minor,  had suffered a fatal seizure two days prior on Oct. 27.

“The kids were so upset the teachers were crying on the phone to the parent,” Alicia Maslo, whose child attended NPMS with Blanchard’s son, reportedly told Nashville NBC affiliate WSMV. “My son came home bawling his eyes out, hugging me, talking about how he couldn’t believe he was gone. He was like, ‘I just saw him, I don’t understand why he’s gone.”

The seemingly tragic news caused an outpouring of heartache, sorrow, and support from the students and faculty at NPMS. Parents, teachers, and school administrators reportedly came out to lend a hand, starting a fundraiser to help pay for the boy’s funeral arrangements. However, when school personnel contacted the Sykes Funeral Home to discuss how they could help pay the expenses, they were told that the funeral home had not been contacted about any arrangements for the child.

According to court records obtained by Clarksville Now, when the school resource officer called Blanchard again, the mother reportedly said that her son’s remains were still being held by the hospital, Tennova Healthcare-Clarksville, until they performed a scheduled autopsy on the boy.

Investigators with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office began to suspect that something about Blanchard’s story was amiss and they soon found out that the boy’s county-issued laptop remained in use. A sheriff’s sergeant followed up on Nov. 16 on a lead at the Vacation Motor Hotel located in the 600 block of Providence Blvd., where he reportedly found the child alone in one of the rooms.

Due to jurisdictional issues, the case was transferred to the Clarksville Police Department, and a detective contacted Blanchard about her son. During an interview with CPD detectives, Blanchard allegedly admitted that she had left her son completely alone in the hotel room—checking in on him less than once per day.

Anthony Johnson, a spokesperson for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, told Clarksville Now that Blanchard did not receive any of the money raised by school personnel.

“To our knowledge, other than flowers, nothing was provided to the family before personnel were informed that the [child] was alive,” Johnson reportedly said.

Maslo reportedly told the NBC affiliate that she and her son went to a GameStop in December and were shocked to find Blanchard’s son—whom they believed had been dead for weeks—inside the store.

“We walked in the door and just stood stalk still. Standing right there was his friend, who, you know, was months dead,” she told the station.

“It’s the most disgusting thing that I could have ever heard. I could never imagine my child being gone, let alone lying about it.”

[image via MCSO]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.