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A Tennessee mother is accused of faking the death of her 12-year-old autistic son, according to reports.
Vanessa Blanchard, 39, was jailed on contributing to the delinquency of a minor and false impression of death, officials said.
The case began on Oct. 29, when Blanchard was contacted by a school resource officer about her son's prolonged absence from New Providence Middle School in Clarksville, according to an arrest warrant obtained by Oxygen.com.
Blanchard allegedly told the school that her son had died two days earlier from a seizure, and eventually claimed her 12-year old's body was at Tennova Hospital in Clarksville awaiting an autopsy.
According to county law enforcement, the school “raised money and tried to help pay” for Blanchard’s son’s funeral. The school, after contacting Sykes Funeral Home in Clarksville, ultimately learned no arrangements had been made.
“When information was provided last semester that a student had allegedly passed away, personnel at the school on their own volition did attempt to connect resources and support for the family,” Anthony D. Johnson, chief communications officer for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, told Oxygen.com on Tuesday.
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office deputies, however, found the boy alive in a hotel room at Vacation Motor Hotel in Clarksville on Nov. 16, after they'd tracked him there using his school-issued laptop, according to the warrant.
Under police questioning, Blanchard allegedly confessed to inventing the child’s death, claiming her son had been living alone in the motel for the previous two weeks, but insisting that she had checked up on him regularly.
Some parents of students at New Providence Middle School, whose children grieved the 12-year-old’s death, are now demanding Blanchard be brought to justice for needlessly traumatizing the school community.
"The kids were so upset, the teachers were crying on the phone to the parent," parent Alicia Maslo told Nashville television station WSMV-TV. "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 Nashville parent said her jaw dropped when she and her son saw the 12-year-old at an electronics store weeks after he’d been reported dead — albeit after he'd been found by police.
“We walked in the door and just stood stalk still,” Maslo said. “Standing right there was his friend, who, you know, was months dead.”
It's unclear when parents and students were informed of the alleged hoax, or if Blanchard’s son is still or has been re-enrolled at New Providence Middle School. School officials declined to comment further on the case.
Blanchard was booked into a Montgomery County detention facility on Jan. 12. She was later released on bond, but was jailed again shortly afterwards for violating the conditions of her temporary release, officials said. The 39-year-old is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 20, according to online court records.
Police haven’t released additional details regarding the ongoing case this week.
“Because this case is pending prosecution, we will not make any comments,” Scott Beaubien, a public information officer for the Clarksville Police Department, told Oxygen.com.
Jeffrey P. Watts, Blanchard’s defense counsel, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on his client’s behalf on Tuesday.
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