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Matthew and Amanda Dotson, the parents accused of starving their 2-year-old son to death, are being held in protective custody at the Roane County Jail.
Sheriff Jack Stockton said the situation was out of concern that they might be harmed by other inmates.
“It’s our job to protect them,” he said.
The Dotsons were booked into the Roane County Jail late Tuesday.
They were indicted by the Roane County grand jury this week for first-degree murder in the death of their son.
Stockton said Clifford Dotson weighed around 12 pounds at the time of his death.
The sheriff’s office investigator who worked on the case said a preliminary autopsy indicated the toddler died of severe malnutrition.
“It was the worst case I’ve ever seen as far as a child being starved or abused,” Stockton said.
Stockton said Matthew Dotson, 27, blamed his wife throughout the investigation and showed no remorse on Tuesday.
“We just hope that the judicial system will work for the benefit of the child,” Stockton said.
The Dotsons lived at 180 Lerchen Road in East Roane County.
Authorities were contacted after Amanda Dotson reportedly took her dead son to Fort Loudoun Medical Center in Lenoir City on the morning of May 3.
The Dotsons apparently left the county after word of the investigation began to spread.
Stockton said they picked up Matthew Dotson in Jefferson County.
“He was living with some friend or relative,” the sheriff said.
Amanda Dotson, 25, was arrested in Cocke County, where she had reportedly been staying with a relative.
The grand jury also indicted Shawn Smoot for first-degree murder in the death of Brooke Morris.
The 23-year-old Knox County woman was found dead at Blair Road and Old Blair Road last October.
Smoot had yet to be booked into the jail as of press time Thursday.
Earlier this week, District Attorney General Russell Johnson said Smoot was out of state. Johnson said an attorney was trying to convince Smoot to surrender.