WJTV News Channel 12 - Mom charged with abuse after runaway Nolensville teen found

Mom charged with abuse after runaway Nolensville teen found

Posted: Updated: Apr 04, 2014 05:39 PM
Christopher Smithburg, 16, was found safe Tuesday night. Christopher Smithburg, 16, was found safe Tuesday night.
His mother, Susan Smithburg, was arrested Wednesday. His mother, Susan Smithburg, was arrested Wednesday.
Christopher had been living at a makeshift campsite off Cooks LaneCooks Lane near the Rutherford-Williamson County line. Christopher had been living at a makeshift campsite off Cooks LaneCooks Lane near the Rutherford-Williamson County line.
NOLENSVILLE, Tenn. -

The mother of a missing Nolensville teenager who ran away and was living at a makeshift campsite was arrested Wednesday, one day after her son was found safe.

Susan Smithburg, 52, faces charges of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect.

She was arrested while attending a juvenile court proceeding for her 16-year-old son Christopher, who is homeschooled and vanished while doing chores last Thursday, March 27.

During the course of their investigation, authorities learned the day before Christopher went missing his mother had disciplined him by allegedly forcing him to do 1,500 push-ups.

Susan is alleged to have shaken his head or abused him in some way while Christopher was doing the push-ups, causing him to be unable to complete the task.

Authorities said Christopher was supposed to finish the remaining push-ups the next day but ran away.

The disciplinary action is said to have stemmed from Christopher lying about cooking a piece of toast.

Christopher was found around 8 p.m. Tuesday in a wooded area several hundred yards off Cooks Lane near the Rutherford-Williamson County line.

Jesse Williams found Christopher at the campsite on his property earlier in the day. He attempted to talk to him before the teen ran off.

"I just had a strange feeling. I thought I'd go up there and look," Williams told News 2 Wednesday. "I asked him, 'Are you Christopher?' He said, 'Yes.' I said, 'Don't you want to go home?' He said, 'I can't.'"

The brief encounter sparked a search of the area by Williamson and Rutherford County authorities and Christopher was later found.

He was taken to StoneCrest Medical Center in Smyrna to be examined before being transported to a juvenile detention facility where he was going to face runaway charges.

It is unclear if those charges will still stand.

Wednesday night, News 2 learned Christopher is now in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, along with his 17-year-old brother and 10-year-old sister.

Authorities said the 17-year-old also exhibited signs of abuse.

All three siblings will remain in foster care as the investigation continues.

Susan Smithburg was released from jail on $100,000 bond Thursday morning.  She is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing April 17.

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