Grand jury to hear
case involving infant's death
RUSSELLVILLE – A Logan
County man whose 5-month-old daughter died this summer changed his story
when law enforcement questioned him over a three-month period, a detective
The case against Michael Anthony Thigpen was sent
to a grand jury after a preliminary hearing Thursday in Logan District
Thigpen, 32, of Auburn, was arrested on charges of
second-degree manslaughter and three counts each of first-degree wanton
endangerment, tampering with physical evidence and neglect.
County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the case, has not released the
name of the infant who died, but an online obituary posted by a Portland,
Tenn., funeral home shows a 5-month-old baby, Emma Grace Thigpen, died June
10 in Auburn and lists Michael Thigpen as her father.
Charles Dauley of the Logan County Sheriff’s Office testified at Thursday’s
hearing, saying that the child died of hyperthermia after EMS received a
report of three unresponsive children at 100 Belcher Drive, Lot 26, in
The infant’s 18-month-old and 2-year-old sisters also
experienced heat-related medical issues, according to Thigpen’s arrest
citation, and were treated at The Medical Center at Bowling Green and Monroe
Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in
Dauley testified that Thigpen initially told law
enforcement that the children were sleeping in one end of the trailer where
they lived and he was sleeping at the other end of the trailer.
Thigpen claimed the air conditioner unit in the room where the children were
sleeping “flickered” and lost power, causing the room to get hotter, Dauley
Questioned by Logan County Attorney Joe Ross, Dauley said
detectives interviewed Thigpen on Sept. 28, at which point he told police he
had been awake for about 24 hours and had taken his wife to work and driven
home, falling asleep inside the residence.
“The children had been
left in the back of the van,” Dauley said.
Several hours after
falling asleep, Thigpen woke up to “a bunch of frantic texts from his wife”
and found that the children had been left in the van, Dauley said.
“He brought the children into the trailer, gave them Pedialyte through a
syringe and put cold rags on them,” Dauley said.
William Maddox II, who is representing Thigpen, asked Dauley why moving the
children from the van to the trailer and attempting to cool them down
constituted tampering with physical evidence, and the detective responded
that Thigpen was attempting to conceal from law enforcement that the
children were harmed by being left in the van.
Maddox argued for the
tampering charges to be dismissed.
“I think it wouldn’t be unusual at
all for my client not to be thinking completely clearly,” Maddox said about
the allegation that the children were moved from the van to the trailer.
“One would think he’d be freaking out.”
Logan District Judge Kenneth
Williams did not find probable cause on two of the three tampering counts
and one of the wanton endangerment counts, while acknowledging that the
commonwealth’s attorney’s office could present those allegations to the