COPY-Austin Watkins' mother says she's been clean for years - - Jackson, MS

Scott County, MS 11/17/08

COPY-Austin Watkins' mother says she's been clean for years

By Bert Case - bio | email

SCOTT COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - The 24 year-old mother of little Austin James Watkins, maintains the Department of Human Services was wrong in taking her child away from her and putting him in custody of his grandmother and aunt, who are now charged with his murder.

She says she does not have a drug problem, although she admits her husband, who is the father of the child, who is in jail on drug and statutory rape charges, is the one with the problem.

"I have not done any drugs, since, I would say 2000. I had one in 2002, I mean I am willing take a drug test, tomorrow, any day. I mean I do not do drugs, I have not done drugs," Tammy Watkins said.

We asked Wakins how she lost Austin.

"Because ah they claimed that my house was unkempt,"Watkins' replied.

Watkins was in a Department of Human Services hearing Monday trying to get custody of her other children, who were in the trailer, with the starvation victim. They are 6-year-old Kenney Watkins, and 9-year-old Erin Jones. Another child in the trailer was 4-year old Courtney Bell, their cousin.

"I heard she was treatin Austin bad back in '06, you know and I called and DHS said they went out there, and they didn't see no bruises on him or anything," Watkins replied.

Sheriff Mike Lee of Scott County explained the purpose of the DHS hearing.

"The mother was going to see about getting custody back, and pretty much DHS was making sure that these children stayed in protective custody," Sheriff Lee said.

The sheriff also confirmed there was an insurance policy on the child that died.

"There was a life insurance policy, it may be another motive, we are searching right now for anything for answers," added Sheriff Lee.

The grandmother and aunt of Austin are still being held in the Scott County jail and no date has been set for a preliminary hearing.

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