Mother accused of choking children

October 29, 2009 6:28:20 PM PDT
Cumberland County sheriff's detectives have charged a Fayetteville woman with several counts of child abuse.Detectives say 32-year-old Tamika Marshya Sawyer allegedly choked her mentally handicapped 12-year-old daughter on several occasions as a form of punishment, leaving the child unconscious.

The attacks allegedly happened between January 2006 and May 2009.

Sawyer is also accused of choking her 10-year-old son. He told detectives she would choke him until his "voice turned low."

Both children claim their mother threatened them by putting a shotgun in their faces and saying, "This is your last chance; be good."

They say she would also put chains on the refrigerator to keep them from eating.

Sawyer says the child abuse and assault allegations against her are untrue.

"I'm a good momma and I really love my kids," she said.

Sawyer's three children -ages 12, 10 and four- were removed from her home in May, but she was arrested and charged Wednesday.

"I love them very much, and I want them to come home," she said.

Sawyer's uncle, Michael Jones, says he wonders why it took investigators seven months to file charges.

"If she would have choked them till they passed out, they would have told me or their grandmother," Jones said.

Investigators say family members knew the children were being mistreated and even took food to the home when the children called saying they were hungry.

Sources close to the investigation tell Eyewitness News the children would call their grandmother -Sawyer's mother- to bring them food when they became hungry, while their mother allegedly played video games and drank alcoholic beverages.

Sawyer says she tried to get help from social services officials, but says all she got was arrested.

Sawyer is charged with four counts of assault on a child under 12-years-old, four counts of misdemeanor child abuse, two counts of assault by pointing a gun, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, two counts of assault by strangulation and two counts of felony child abuse.

She was released on bond Thursday. Eyewitness News has learned a friend of Sawyer's put their property up to secure her release.

Sawyer's next court appearance will be on November 18.

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