Smyrna mom had been investigated before children died - WSMV Channel 4

Smyrna mom had been investigated before children died

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We have disturbing new details about the deaths of two toddlers in Smyrna. The Channel 4 I-Team has learned there were red flags long before they were left in a hot car Thursday. The Department of Children Services had investigated their mother nearly a year before they died.

Meredith Vaughn says she did everything she could to protect 2-year-old Savannah and her 3-year-old brother Daniel. She called police last September when she saw they were in trouble at the home where they used to live in La Vergne.

But, yesterday those babies she tried to save were found dead after police say they were left in a hot car by their mother. Samantha Harper told investigators she put the kids in the car but then went back inside and fell asleep. Harper has now been charged with the deaths of her only children, but the Channel 4 I-Team is digging deeper and we have found there were problems long before they died.

After Harper's former neighbor made that call to police, a report was filed. Investigators say the toddlers had been outside, unsupervised. They found Harper asleep in a bedroom while her daughter was found with screwdrivers in her hand.

The report states their home was a "hazard to young children" because it was "messy," "in disarray," and there was trash and food scattered about."

Those are the same conditions police found Thursday in Smyrna where Harper and her children had been living.

Exclusive photos obtained by the I-team show just how bad it was. In fact, the home has now been condemned. The pictures taken by Smyrna Codes show a soiled diaper on the floor, a collapsed wall and once again food all over the place.

What's worse? Investigators say they found maggots inside the house and no working air conditioning.

Now two children are dead and many are wondering how something like this could happen. We asked DCS if they took any action after they were alerted back in September. They would only say they investigated the La Vergne incident but will not release any other details about their findings.

Harper was not charged in that La Vergne case last September but she now faces two counts of especially aggravated child abuse and neglect for the deaths of Savannah and Daniel.  Smyrna police tell us she could be facing even more charges.

Harper is still behind bars at the Rutherford County Jail on a $200,000 bond.

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