KLTV 7 News has learned the Smith County couple charged with child endangerment and abandonment were transported to the Smith County jail tonight.
Renee Lingard, 35, and Duane Lingard, 38, of Tyler had been in the custody of the Rusk County Sheriff's Department following their arrest in Reklaw yesterday. This after officials found their seven year old son, Jackson, at a building on Highway 155 where the family had been living for the past three months.
Smith County authorities made the discovery while serving an eviction notice. Smith County Precinct 2 Constable Frank Creath says the child was living in filthy conditions, that drugs were found inside and that his parents were nowhere to be found. "He told me the man who was out front whenever I first came up was his babysitter and that he had been spending the night there. The man told me before he left the area that he had gotten out of jail that morning and had been in jail for seven days," said Constable Creath.
Officials say Jackson is with Child Protective Services. A dog found with the boy was taken to the Humane Society of Smith County.
Two hours before their arrest yesterday, Duane and Renee Lingard granted KLTV 7 News an exclusive interview. The couple denies having any drugs inside their home. They said because of Renee's health problems, they had to rush to the hospital at around 9:45 Thursday morning and their friend, Rod, who'd been living with them for the past year, was helping them move.
The Lingards also opened up to us about their past and what they plan to do next. "It's amazing to me that a person can call and lie like that. I mean CPS they knew and they said that Rod was there, that he was being left in charge of Jackson. I was gone no more than an hour, Renee, wasn't it? An hour," said Duane.
He says when Smith County officials told his friend Rod, CPS would be taking Jackson, Rod tried to explain the situation but they didn't listen. "We were told that we could no longer, we were trespassing if we got over there," said Duane.
Jackson's mother, Renee said, the family has been going through a tough time financially because of her medical problems. "It's been tough for me and Duane but Jackson hadn't noticed it. He's had everything he wants. He's spoiled rotten," said Renee. Renee says she's been arrested twice before: once on a warrant for not paying a traffic ticket and the other, for having her husband's anti-depressant medication in her purse. "He said this don't belong to you. You're under arrest. And I was floored. So, they arrested me for possession of drugs," said Renee.
Neighbors we spoke say they were concerned to see that Jackson was not going to school. Duane says Jackson suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder and he was often labeled a "bad kid" in school. "I took him out of Smith County schools because his teacher told him, I really wish you did go to another school. Yeah, his sister heard that. So, I took him out of school and I home-schooled him," said Duane.
Officials and neighbors claim there was heavy traffic going in and out of the Lingard's residence, an accusation Duane denies. "I can count five people that have been to my house since I've been there," said Duane.
The couple faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on charges of child endangerment and abandonment.