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The Department of Children's Services confirms they have investigated Samantha Harper's family before.
Harper is the mother of the two children found trapped inside a car that later died. She faces two counts of especially aggravated child abuse.
Flowers, balloons and toys…presents for two small children...who will never be able to play with them.
"To know that these kids didn't even have a chance at life, they died so young and that s just a horrible, horrible thing to happen," said Stephanie Mangrum who left tokens outside the home where police say the children died.
Friday afternoon, Mangrum and other concerned Smyrna families left these items with messages for 2-year-old Savannah Marise and her older brother, 3-year old Daniel.
Investigators say they were found dead outside their home on the 9500 block of Old Nashville Highway Thursday afternoon.
Their mother, Samantha Harper was arrested after investigators determined the kids had been inside the hot car for more than an hour.
"They were probably crying for their mom or dad and to think that you know they can't get out, they're just there, it just broke my heart," said Jessica Johnson.
"It pulls at everybody's emotions, their heart strings," said Sgt. Bobby Gibson of the Smyrna Police Department.
Gibson says Harper was the one who called 911 but by the time first responders arrived it was too late.
He can't say where Harper was or what she was doing during that hour but investigators found the children had been living in substandard conditions.
"It was very filthy inside," Gibson said. "A lot of food, trash, cigarette butts, cans."
The home is now condemned, but during the investigation, police also learned La Vergne police received a child neglect complaint about the family's previous home last year.
"The children were unattended, one of the children was apparently carrying a screwdriver in their hand," Gibson said.
Neighbors say that should have been a warning that could have prevented Thursday's tragedy.
"They should have taken [the kids] for a few months or so to get them on their feet so that way they could be as to take care of their kids," said Chelsea Ehrenhaft. I mean running around with a screwdriver at two or three that's kind of scary...yeah, real bad red flag."
Harper is being held on a $200,000 bond. Smyrna police say additional charges could be added.
Friday, August 3 2012, 10:57 PM CDT
Houston brother will be his own attorney in court
June 18, 2013 13:02 GMT
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A Roane County man will face federal gun violation charges next month without an attorney.
The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/17VlXpM ) reported Rocky Joe Houston will represent himself on a charge of possession of a gun by a felon.
The charge came after Houston earlier represented himself in state court on charges stemming from a police chase. He was convicted of evading arrest and reckless endangerment.
Houston and his brother, Leon Houston, were tried, but not convicted, in the 2006 shooting deaths of a Roane County deputy and his ride-along companion.
In federal court, Rocky Joe Houston is claiming the officer who charged him with the felony had no legal authority.
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com
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