Marijuana may grow by doghouse, police say
By CHRIS GRIER The Virginian-Pilot
© 2000, The Virginian-Pilot
CHESAPEAKE -- Jennifer Williams, accused with her husband, Christian
Williams, of forcing his daughter to sleep outside in a bug-infested doghouse,
is living at a nearby relative's home while her husband remains jailed.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth's Attorney Randall D. ``Randy'' Smith said
Monday that he will send investigators to the couple's Skipjack Lane home to
examine what appeared to be a knee-high marijuana plant growing in plain
view beside the ramshackle wooden box where police said the girl was forced
``If that's true, it really makes you wonder,'' Smith said. ``What kind of
parents grow marijuana and make their children sleep in a doghouse?''
Jennifer, 28, and Christian, 32, were arraigned Monday in Chesapeake
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on one count each of felony child
abuse and neglect. They face five years in jail if convicted. Christian Williams
is due in court again on Sept. 19; no court date was set for his wife.
Police said that the two forced Christian Williams' 7-year-old daughter to
sleep in the box as punishment and that several neighbors called officers after
hearing her scream early Sunday morning.
Paula Thomas, their next-door neighbor, said she awoke early Sunday to the
sound of a girl screaming, ``Daddy!''
``We all rushed outside in our night shirts, our hair all crazy. . . . We couldn't
see anything,'' she said. ``None of us had any idea that there could be a girl
trapped in there.
``The police officers went around to the back yard through the gate. That's
when we found out where she was.
``Louie had it better than that little girl had it,'' Thomas said, gesturing toward
Police said the ordeal left the girl with bug bites on her leg that appeared to be
infected. She and a 10-year-old girl in the house are now in the custody of
Child Protective Services. Police were unsure of the 10-year-old's relationship
to the couple.
Jennifer Williams, freed on $5,000 bond, returned after her arraignment to a
hand-lettered sign tacked up at the entrance to their Waterway Forest
subdivision that called her and her husband child abusers.
Neighbors said that Jennifer Williams had moved in with relatives in the same
neighborhood. No one answered the door there Monday afternoon.
Neighbors said they knew little about the couple because they kept to
themselves. Their children tended not to play with other children, several
Several neighbors said Jennifer Williams moved to Hampton Roads from
California. Land records show the couple bought their house in January 1999.
``They were kind of the odd couple on the block,'' said Toby DeBause, in that
they didn't socialize much.
From the street, the Williams' home set them apart, too.
Unlike most other houses on the block, the lawn was unmowed. Trash bags
were strewn by the curb, including one containing a child's rain-soaked teddy
bear. The back yard was choked with weeds.
Seen from a neighbor's yard, the doghouse was a warped, rotting box of
particle board nailed together, about chest-high. Inside were a blue jacket and
a child's stuffed doll.
What appeared to be a knee-high marijuana plant was growing an arm's
Chesapeake Police spokeswoman Cheryl Sitler did not know if the police
who freed the girl Sunday saw the plant. She said the detectives' investigation
was ``over and done with.''
Commonwealth's Attorney Smith, however, was upset by that news.
``We take that very seriously,'' he said.
Reach Chris Grier at 446-2643 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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This Page was created on 17th January, 2001