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Tennessee Couple Accused Of Starving Developmentally Disabled Adult Son To Death

John V. Hoover, a 44-year-old man with developmental disabilities who was reportedly dependent on his parents, John Dennis and Jacqueline Hoover, died from “severe malnutrition,” officials said.

By Dorian Geiger
Police handouts of John and Jacqueline Hoover

A Tennessee couple have been jailed in the killing of their mentally disabled 44-year-old son, who starved to death in their care, according to officials. 

John Dennis Hoover and Jacqueline Hoover were taken into police custody on murder charges on Friday in connection with suspected starvation death of their developmentally disabled adult son, John V. Hoover. They’ve been charged with felony murder, as well as aggravated neglect of a vulnerable adult.

John Dennis Hoover phoned law enforcement on June 23 and allegedly said his son had refused to eat in the week leading up to his death, ABC affiliate WTVC reported, citing the case’s affidavit. The Tennessee father allegedly claimed to have first noticed that his son wasn’t eating his meals in April. 

The son was taken to Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga but ultimately died on June 29. His body showed various signs of neglect, according to investigators.

Officials said John V. Hoover was “obviously emaciated and had pressure sores on his person.”

According to charging documents, John V. Hoover’s parents moved in with him after the 44-year-old man’s grandmother died, according to The Chattanoogan. His family claimed he had the mental capacity of a 5-year-old child.  

John Dennis Hoover allegedly confessed under questioning that he and his wife, Jacqueline Hoover "would withhold food from the victim to get him to shower and tied him to a bed at night to keep him from taking food,” according to the case’s affidavit. The Tennessee father insisted he’d taken his son for a doctor’s appointment in February but hadn’t sought medical care for the disabled man since.

Investigators, however, ultimately concluded that the Tennessee parents "willfully and knowingly deprived the victim of dire medical attention".

A number of cats were also removed from the Tennessee couple’s care by animal services.

According to Chattanooga television station WDEF-TV, one neighbor told the outlet that the couple’s son was often seen wandering about the family’s mobile home complex complaining he was hungry.

No further information was available from officials regarding the case this week. 

The Chattanooga Police Department and the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately respond to questions surrounding the active investigation when contacted by Oxygen.com on Wednesday afternoon.

John Dennis Hoover and Jacqueline Hoover are currently in custody at a Hamilton County detention center, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. They’re scheduled to appear in court on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. It’s unclear if the Hixson couple have retained legal representation to comment on their behalf.