Investigation

Jul 20, 2012 10:43 PM by Josh Breslow

Children Found Blocked In Knox County Daycare Attic

A Knox County daycare owner has been arrested, charged with several counts of criminal abuse, after police say five children were found blocked in the daycare's attic, alongside some hot and dangerous conditions.

'Great Start Educational Center' looks just like your average daycare from the outside. Childrens toys are scattered all around the building on Allison Avenue in Barbourville. But according to police, it's not a licensed childcare facility and it is the site of some pretty horrific child abuse.

"We expected at some point that they would be closed down, but I never in my life dreamed they would endanger any children," said Gera Jones, who lives right next door to the daycare.

Jones was shocked to hear the disturbing allegations against the owner and operator of the childcare center, Larinda Tuttle, 38.

Police said it was Friday afternoon, when 5 kids between the ages of 5 and 7 were found blocked inside the attic. The temperature inside was more than 102 degrees, and that was after officers opened the windows. Police also said the attic was only partially floored and had exposed nails and wires, even broken glass.

"I am thinking these people are insane and they should probably be locked up. They should not be in any way in charge of children," said Jones.

The daycare had apparently been told to shut its doors after officers said they discovered it was operating without a license. When investigators with the Office of Inspector General showed up Friday afternoon to do a follow-up, police said, those investigators found the five kids in the attic with no way out.

"I cannot imagine what those children have been through. I don't even want to imagine," said Jones.

Police said all of the children appeared to be OK, but the parents were advised to have the children checked out by medical professionals.

Larinda Tuttle declined LEX 18's request for an interview from the Knox County Jail. She faces five counts of criminal abuse and more charges are possible.

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