When Ida Thurmond
and her four children showed up at a Hartwell safe house one night in August 2008, she said she and the children had been held prisoners in a filthy trailer for three years.
Now Thurmond is behind bars
, charged with multiple counts of first-degree child cruelty and false imprisonment.
Thurmond told the safe house employees more than a year ago that she and her children had escaped in the night to get away from her abusive husband, Raymond Daniel Thurmond. Ida Thurmond was taken to the Lavonia Police Department, where she told her story of sexual abuse, starvation, imprisonment and fear.
But the Lavonia police investigator handling the case, Mechelle Collins, said Ida Thurmond’s story never sat right with her.
“I suspected her early on, because I had questions that she couldn’t or wouldn’t give me an answer to that were common-sense questions
based on the evidence that I had,” Collins said. “That led me to continue to investigate and send some evidence to the crime lab and once we came up with those results, I knew I had proof that I could arrest her.”
The indictment says that Ida Thurmond willfully deprived the children of food to the extent that their health was jeopardized.
At the time of Daniel Thurmond’s arrest last year, Ida Thurmond said she and the children were all kept against their will in the trailer, were not even allowed to go to the store and ate only what fast food Daniel Thurmond brought home.
But now, authorities say they believe she was equally responsible
for holding the children captive and depriving them of food during the weeks Daniel Thurmond was away working as a truck driver.
When authorities found the children last year, they were malnourished and disheveled and had never been to school. The children were ages 14, 13, 12 and 9.
All four children were turned over to Ida Thurmond’s custody,
although the two oldest were not her biological children, and Daniel Thurmond was arrested.
Once the children were in a new home with Ida Thurmond, agents with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services continued to monitor their progress. But after several months, social workers determined the children were not receiving adequate care.
In December 2008, Ida Thurmond lost custody of all four.
Her arrest, however, didn’t come until late Wednesday afternoon after she went to Carnesville to visit with her two biological children at a Wendy’s restaurant on Ga. 145.
Ida Thurmond was living with a new boyfriend in South Carolina, and Collins said authorities needed to wait until Thurmond’s scheduled visit with her two children.
Collins said she waited for Thurmond to finish the visit and, with the help of a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy, stopped Thurmond’s vehicle as she was leaving and took her into custody.
The indictment of Ida Thurmond will likely change things for Daniel Thurmond, but Lavender said he’s not yet sure exactly how it will affect how he tries his case against Daniel Thurmond.
“It may affect some of the charges against him,” Lavender said. “I’ve not yet entered into any plea negotiations with his attorney. That’s not to say it won’t happen, but I’ve not at this stage.”
Daniel Thurmond’s trial is set to start Oct. 26.