‘Upset’ caretaker threw boiling water in face of elderly deaf man in her care: police


Tina M. Vaughn (Shelby County Jail)

Tina M. Vaughn (Shelby County Jail)

A 42-year-old caregiver in Tennessee has been arrested for allegedly throwing boiling water on an elderly patient in her care, leaving the victim with second and third-degree burns on his face, neck, and back.

Tina M. Vaughn was taken into custody on Monday and charged with one felony count of aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult and one misdemeanor count of simple assault, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

According to a probable cause affidavit, an officer with the Memphis Police Department at about 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2024, responded to a call at the Regional One Burn Center in the 800 block of Jefferson Avenue.

The patient suffered second and third-degree burns “to the right side of his face, shoulder, and right side of his back,” the affidavit states. The document notes that the victim — who is deaf — lives in a group home and has “intellectual and developmental disabilities,” which include schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD.

A sign language interpreter was required for police to take the victim’s statement.

The victim told the officer that at about 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 21, he was at his group home in the 600 block of Gookin Place along with his caregiver, whom he identified as Tina Vaughn. According to the victim, Vaughn was “responsible” for his well-being.

The victim said he was in the kitchen boiling water to cook some noodles when things went awry.

“(The victim) stated that Tina Vaughn was upset with him and told him to go to the living room,” the affidavit states. “While (the victim) was on the couch, Tina Vaughn got upset and threw the boiling water on (the victim), causing burns to his face, neck, and back.”

Vaughn allegedly got angry with the victim because he refused to go to sleep, police said.

The victim told police he “yelled and ran out of the apartment.”

After allegedly throwing the boiling water on the victim, Vaughn allegedly did not call the police or emergency medical services but did call her supervisor.

The victim returned to the home later that night, police said. When Vaughn came to work the next morning, she called an ambulance, which took the victim to the Regional One Burn Center.

Police included Vaughn in a six-person lineup, and the victim picked her as the individual who threw the boiling water on him, police said.

Police filed a separate report stating the victim had previously claimed that he burned himself by accident, tripping on a rug while carrying the boiling water and falling to the ground.

Vaughn similarly told medical staffers that the victim had tripped on the rug and burned himself, and she brought him in for medical treatment “when the extent of his injuries became evident.”

“Staff advised that Mrs. Vaughn acted appropriately and stayed with the victim for several hours until he was situated at the hospital,” the other report states.

Vaughn’s husband told Memphis CBS affiliate WREG that his wife loves the career she’s been in for more than 15 years, has never had any previous issues with those in her care, and did not harm the victim in any way.

Vaughn was released from the Shelby County Detention Center on Tuesday after posting a bond of $50,000. She is scheduled to appear in court again on Thursday for a bond review hearing, records show. It was not immediately clear if Vaughn had retained an attorney.

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