Parents Arrested After Allegedly Forcing Girl, 5, to OD on Soda
By M. Alex Johnson
A Tennessee couple were held on a half-million dollars bond Thursday after they were charged with killing their 5-year-old daughter by forcing her to drink almost three-quarters of a gallon of grape soda and water as punishment.
In indictments unsealed Monday, a Hawkins County grand jury charged Mary Lavonne Vaughn, 58, and Randall Lee Vaughn, 41, of the town of Surgoinsville with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and two counts of aggravated child neglect each.
A court appearance was scheduled for Friday.
The Vaughns remained in the Hawkins County Jail this morning on $500,000 bond. They were arrested Wednesday and were scheduled to make their first court appearance Friday.
Little Alexa Linboom died in January 2012, but it took almost two years for medical examiners and forensics experts to rule her death a homicide by acute fluid/water intoxication causing hyponatremic encephalopathy. In other words, she drank so much fluid that it poisoned her.Randall Vaughn was Alexa's biological father, and Mary Vaughn was her stepmother.
The Hawkins County Sheriff Department said in a statement that its investigation revealed that Alexa had been told to stop drinking her stepmother's grape soda. When she was caught drinking some again, it said, she was forced to drink 2.4 liters — about 81 ounces — of the soda and water in a period of one to two hours.
Third Judicial District Attorney Berkley Bell told the Times-News of Kingsport that the Vaughns "also failed to take care of the child once she was injured," saying they didn't talk her to a hospital until "several hours after the child started exhibiting serious symptoms, after the child was screaming out in pain, went into a paralyzed state and became unconscious."
Alexa lived in the home with five other childen, all of whom are now in foster care, the Times-News reported.