Tennessee woman faked death of son with autism, left him at motel, police say

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee woman is behind bars, accused of leaving her son with autism at a local motel while telling school officials he was dead.

Vanessa Ann Blanchard, 39, of Clarksville, is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a child and giving a false impression of death. She is being held in the Montgomery County Jail.

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A criminal complaint obtained by Clarksville Today states that Blanchard’s 12-year-old son is a student at New Providence Middle School. On Oct. 29, a school resource officer contacted Blanchard to find out why her son was not in classes.

Blanchard told the officer that her son had died of a seizure two days before, according to the complaint.

“The kids were so upset, the teachers were crying on the phone to the parent,” parent Alicia Maslo told WSMV-TV in Nashville. “My son came home bawling his eyes out, hugging me, talking about how he couldn’t believe he was gone. He was like, ‘I just saw him, I don’t understand why he’s gone.’”

School authorities, mourning the boy’s death, established a fundraiser to help pay for his funeral, the complaint states. When they contacted Sykes Funeral Home, the owners told them they had no funeral arrangements for the boy.

When asked about the discrepancy, Blanchard told school officials her son’s body was still at Tennova Hospital awaiting autopsy.

On Nov. 16, nearly three weeks after Blanchard’s son had supposedly died, school officials learned that his school-issued laptop was in use a few miles away at the Vacation Motor Hotel.

A Montgomery County deputy went to the hotel, where she found the boy alone in one of the rooms.

When questioned about her son, Blanchard admitted she had left him alone in the room for the past two weeks, checking on him “whenever she could,” the complaint states. She said she would check on the boy each day or every other day.

She was arrested Jan. 12 in connection with the case.

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Maslo told WSMV-TV that she and her son stopped dead in their tracks when they walked into a GameStop last month.

“We walked in the door and just stood stalk still,” Maslo said. “Standing right there was his friend who, you know, was months dead.”

The mother said Blanchard’s lie is the “most disgusting” thing she’s ever heard of.

“I could never imagine my child being gone, let alone lying about it,” she said.

Blanchard’s motive for lying about her son was unclear.

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