VERNON PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Three people are behind bars and a little 7-year-old girl is alive and being treated for injuries that the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office called, “one of the worst, if not the worst case of child abuse that has occurred in Vernon Parish, according to a Facebook post from VPSO Sheriff Sam Craft
Allen Clayton Fulks, age 20, of Rosepine, Dakota Wayne Singletary, age 22, of Lake Charles and Stacy Lynn Tharpe, age 29, of Rosepine, are all behind bars charged with second degree cruelty to a juvenile.
Faulks and Singletary are charged with severely beating the child and Tharp is charged with witnessing them do it and then attempting to conceal her whereabouts by leaving her unattended.
Detectives discovered the child and her deplorable condition through a bizarre series of incidents that led them to her.
Just before 9:30 p.m. on July 6, Rosepine Police Officer Robert Green and Louisiana State Trooper Peter Smith responded to a vehicle accident on Lockhart Cutoff Road in the Rosepine area. When they arrived, the officers found Singletary and Fulks inside the vehicle suffering from minor injuries.
As the officers were investigating at the scene, Tharp arrived with her children. Rosepine is a small town, and Green knew Tharp was caring for an additional child, who was not with her.
Green asked Tharpe about the child, and she indicated the child’s mother had the child. But a witness at the scene advised officers that the child was still in Tharp’s care.
So Green and Smith went to Tharp’s home, where they found the little girl suffering from severe bruising and eyes almost swollen shut. found the child suffering from extensive bruising.
The officers contacted VPSO Detective David Vance, who responded and began an investigation, learning the little girl’s mom had left her in Tharp’s care back in February and hadn’t returned.
The child was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where an examination showed “significant and acute bruising” over her entire body, adding that the child said Singletary and Fulks had repeatedly beaten her with their fists and choked her until she lost consciousness and her hair had been cut off.
Craft said the little girl told deputies she “was tired and couldn’t take the abuse any longer.”
While officers were investigating the situation with the child at Tharp’s house, Singletary and Fulks were at the hospital being treated for their injuries from the automobile accident.
But when they were released from the hospital the next day were taken straight back to the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office, where they had some explaining to do.
After investigating the situation at Tharp’s house, seeing the injured child, Vance had some questions for Mr. Fulks and Mr. Singletary. And, during the course of their conversations with Vance, both men admitted to abusing the child.
Following those July 7 interviews, Singletary and Fulks were arrested and each charged with three counts of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile. They are being held at the Vernon Parish Jail on a $45,000 bond set by District Judge Tony Bennett.
The next day, on July 8th, Vance conducted an interview with Tharpe, who admitted to witnessing the child being abused. Because she failed to report the abuse and attempted to hide the child and left her home alone, Tharpe was arrested and charged with one count of principal to second degree cruelty to a juvenile.
She is being held in the Vernon Parish jail on a $300,000 bond
Although the child’s mother has not returned since she dropped off the child with Tharp in five months ago, detectives located her biological father now are working jointly with a social worker from the Department of Child and Family Services on the case.
Craft said if not for the efforts of Green, Smith and Vance and their diligence and hard work in the rescue of the child, investigators believe she “would have become a tragic statistic…”
The child continues to undergo medical treatment for her injuries.