Grieving Father Speaks Out about Son's Death

By: Lori Mitchell
By: Lori Mitchell

Tommy Jewell passed away July 19th after a 13 day stay in Vanderbilt Hospital's burn unit. Jewell, an eighth grader at Metcalfe County Middle School, used gasoline and a lighter to set himself on fire.

"At times he was like a teddy bear. He loved you, he hugged you, he would go up to complete strangers and tell them he loved him. But it was just too much, more than he could handle."

Tommy's father Gary Jewell says his son suffered mental illness because of years of sexual and physical abuse by family members.

Gary had custody of Tommy and his twin brother Timmy since 2000. He hoped to be able to get his son help so he could put the abuse behind him, but Gary claims Social Services stood in his way.

Three weeks before the fire, a judge ordered Metcalfe County Social Services to take Tommy to a psychiatric hospital. Gary claims they refused to comply with the court order. Frustrated, Gary went back to court a second time.

"Nobody would help. Not even a court order would help. Nothing."

WBKO obtained a copy of a court order that commands that Tommy Jewell get professional help. Gary says the court order was ignored by the very people charged with protecting the state's children.

"It could have been prevented. The whole thing could have been. It's a very sad situation."

Gary says his son should be alive today. He says the courts did their job. The judge did his job. Everyone agreed Tommy needed psychiatric help. He says the Department of Protection and Permanency is to blame.

Because of Kentucky laws, the Department of Protection and Permanency can not release any information involving a juvenile, even if the child is deceased. We contacted them for comment on this story, they declined.


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