She Abandons Disabled Daughter In Tennessee

Eva Cameron knows people don’t understand. But the Algonquin mother of three says she could no longer cope with her 19-year-old daughter’s disabilities, escalating behavioral problems or medical bills.

So after a conflict with a social worker, Cameron packed her eldest into her car last month and drove to rural Caryville, Tenn. There, she watched as her daughter entered the Big Orange Bar to use the restroom. And then Cameron turned around and drove home, saying, “I handed the wheel to Jesus.”

As Tennessee officials investigate possible criminal charges against Cameron, she said she doesn’t want to bring her daughter back to Illinois. She doesn’t believe the state will provide adequate medical services or housing for the young woman, who functions at the intellectual level of a 3-year-old, Cameron said.

The daughter “is safe and being cared for,” said Melissa Marshall, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. “We are gathering the necessary information to put in a request for a crisis placement.”

Tennessee officials at first said they would not charge Cameron because her daughter is legally an adult. But authorities reversed course within days of learning the circumstances of the case, which began June 28 when the 19-year-old with a limited vocabulary was discovered without ID or money.

Because the young woman couldn’t say who she was, authorities released a photo seeking the public’s help in identifying her. A Chicago-area woman recognized the photo, providing the tip that led police to Cameron. The mom returned to Tennessee on July 10 and signed a statement saying that she didn’t want to bring her daughter back to Illinois.

Cameron had met with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which provided supportive services to this family, trying to help the mother understand the proper way to provide guardianship to a disabled individual.

Cameron, apparently unhappy with the social worker’s advice, said she recalled that a member of her church suggested that Tennessee offers better services to people with disabilities. She said she planned to take her daughter to a church in that state but didn’t make it to her final destination.

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