An Illinois woman who left her mentally disabled daughter outside a Tennessee bar cannot be charged with a crime, police said Tuesday. Police in Caryville, Tennessee, said the daughter is 19 and not assigned to a legal guardian.
"As terrible as it is, unfortunately there is nothing we can do," Assistant Police Chief Stephanie Smith said. "There is no doubt we need a law for mental health rights, but pending this investigation, we just don’t know what else to do."According to police, Eva Cameron stopped at the Big Orange Bar in Caryville on June 28 when her daughter, Lynn, needed to use the restroom. The mother left Lynn by the side of the road and returned to her home in Algonquin, Illinois, according to Smith.
"(Lynn) didn’t know her age, she didn’t know her address, she didn’t know her phone number and she didn’t even know her name," Smith said. Eva Cameron told the Northwest Herald newspaper in Illinois that she brought Lynn to Caryville because of its concentration of Baptists and because Tennessee has the "No. 1 health care system in the United States of America."
The young woman’s identity was unknown until Caryville police received an anonymous tip on Monday, having released a picture and requested information from the public. At their request, Eva Cameron had a brief meeting with Caryville police on Tuesday. She signed a statement saying that Lynn Cameron was now a ward of Tennessee, officials said. "She basically said, ‘I don’t want her and I don’t want to take her.’ Then she got in her car and she left," said Smith.
When reached later Tuesday by CNN, Eva Cameron said, "We understand she lost her ID card and that’s how the situation has turned into what happened. She’s already an adult. I just have to leave it at that." Eva Cameron would not answer further questions.
Authorities took Lynn Cameron to a hospital, where she was discovered to have only a basic vocabulary of 30-40 words, according to Smith. A Campbell County Chancery Court order in the case described Lynn Cameron as a "severely disabled adult, suffering from profound mental deficits, and is unable to care for herself or her personal needs."
According to the court, the mother stated "she could not and would not care for Lynn Cameron." Eva Cameron said that she has another disabled child and that caring for both was too much to handle, according to the Northwest Herald. Authorities said Lynn Cameron is being cared for at a facility in Roane County. When asked how the young woman is doing, Smith replied, "Lynn is doing fantastic."