BUCKHANNON – An Upshur County husband and wife are each being held on a $25,000 cash-only bond after they took more than an hour to report their two children missing when they ran away from home at night during a rainstorm last month.
Scott D. Tenney Jr., 30, and Jessica L. Tenney, 28, both of Buckhannon, have each been charged with two counts of child neglect creating a risk of injury, a felony. Scott Tenney is also facing four counts of failure to register or provide notice of changes to authorities involved in maintaining the West Virginia Child Abuse Registration.
According to several criminal complaints filed in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office by Trooper First Class F.J. Turansky with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police, on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, Turansky was called to a residence within the city limits of Buckhannon. At the residence, Turansky learned that the children – an eight-year-old and a nine-year-old – had run away from home.
The two children told police they lived with their mother, Jessica Tenney, and their father, Scott Tenney, at a residence on Wabash Avenue and that they ran away because they were abused.
“Their parents told them to get out of the house, so they did,” Turansky wrote in the report. “They first tried to find a friend’s house, but they couldn’t. They then came to their other friend’s house.”
While speaking with the two youths, Turansky noticed a red mark on the nine-year-old’s left arm, and the child advised police that “her dad did it with a belt,” according to the file.
Turansky subsequently responded to the residence of Jessica Tenney and Scott Tenney on Wabash Avenue. The report says that Scott Tenney was sitting on the couch, but Jessica Tenney, the mother, came outside and told police that “while cooking dinner she noticed the kids were in the back of the residence.” She said 10 minutes later, she noticed the two children were missing and searched for the two kids for approximately 30 minutes before she decided to call 911 to see if anyone had reported seeing them.
“Mr. Tenney had also been outside looking for them,” Turanksy wrote.
However, the officer noticed both parents’ clothes appeared to be dry.
“It should be noted that the weather conditions were rainy at this time,” the officer wrote in the complaint. “[I] felt both Mr. and Mrs. Tenney’s clothing, which felt dry.”
Turansky concluded that the two juveniles left the residence after dark just before 7 p.m. in the midst of a rainstorm without jackets and traveled about eight-tenths of a mile along “a busy two-lane road known as the Old Weston Road,” according to the report. The two siblings first attempted to walk to a residence near Riley Heights, but when they couldn’t locate the home they were looking for, they traveled to an alternate residence.
The complaint says Upshur County E911 Communication Center records indicated the two juveniles were missing for one hour and one minute before Jessica Tenney called the Comm Center to inquire about her children.
Turansky also filed another complaint regarding the children’s father, which says that while the officer was on scene in reference to the missing children, Scott Tenney told police that “he is a registered child abuser,” according to the report. Scott Tenney told Turansky he is the biological father of four children between the ages of 2 years old and 9 years old who do not live at the Wabash Avenue residence but had been staying there for the past eight months.
“Mr. Tenney is required to notify the West Virginia State Police of the names and ages of any children in the household and any children currently living in [the home] or subsequently born to him,” the officer wrote. Turansky noted that Scott Tenney had signed off on the Notification of Child Abuser responsibility and Registration Certification form; however, he allegedly had not updated his registration since June 15, 2021.
Upshur County Magistrate Mark Davis set bond at $25,000 cash only for Jessica Tenney and Scott Tenney on the child neglect creating risk of injury charges. Bond was also set at an additional $10,000 cash or surety on the failure to register charge for Scott Tenney.
The penalty for a conviction of each count of child neglect creating risk of injury is a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $3,000, imprisonment in a state penitentiary for one to five years, or both. In addition, the penalty for a conviction of each count of failure to register or provide notice of changes to the Child Abuse Registration is a fine ranging between $250 and $1,000, imprisonment in jail for up to one year or both.