FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2nd, 2018
On August 25, 2017, Detectives in the Persons Crimes Unit of the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) at the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office received an allegation that Ashley Groover and her husband, Norris Groover, were abusing and neglecting a six year old child for whom they had custodial responsibilities. Authorities immediately removed the child, as well as five others, from that environment and CID Detectives initiated an investigation.
Through many interviews, CID Detectives determined that Ashley Groover, with the consent of Norris Groover, would lock the six year old child in a small laundry room because the child was “demon possessed” or as punishment, and always required the child to sleep in the laundry room at night. Multiple children in the home confirmed that the six year old was required to sleep alone on the floor in the laundry room without a blanket or a pillow and that they would bring food and water in to her. Another child in the home stated that even though the six year old was scared of dogs, a pit bull was caged in the laundry room with the six year old. When asked to describe how often the six year old was locked in the laundry room, one sibling stated, “when (the six year old) gets off the school bus in the day time” and (the six year old) sleeps in the laundry room at night. The six year old was allowed to play outside one day each week or month. One sibling said he/she sometimes heard (the six year old) talking to (him/her self) in the laundry room and sometimes heard (the six year old) “pretending to have tea parties” by (him/her self). Even though the other five children in the home were taught to mistreat the six year old, they would secretly exhibit kindness toward the child. For example, one child in the home stated “sometimes I would try to sneak something in there for (the six year old child) at night…like toys and candy.” One child reported receiving toys from their teacher’s treasure box at school and secretly giving those toys to the six year old.
In November 2017, CID Detectives interrogated Ashley and Norris Groover, both of whom denied the allegations. During January 2018, CID Detectives interviewed adults who visited the residence on occasion, who reported that the six year old child was excluded from family photographs and adults who visited the home were never allowed to see the six year old. In June 2017, adults who visited the home began noticing the six year old’s absence. When asked where the six year old was, Ashley Groover and Norris Groover would provide various excuses to include “(six year old) had soiled his/her clothes and couldn’t come outside,” “(six year old) was asleep,” “(six year old) was in the tub,” etc.
On February 1, 2018, CID Detectives obtained arrest warrants for Ashley Groover and Norris Groover charging them with Felony Child Abuse with infliction of physical and mental injury. Ashley Groover and Norris Groover were arrested that same day by authority of the arrest warrants and booked into the Wakulla County Jail.