GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Greene County couple accused of trying to sell their baby after posting an ad on Craigslist were in court Friday morning for a preliminary hearing.
Deanna Greer, 37, and John Cain, 26, face charges of criminal attempt to commit aggravate child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment, as well as violating “Haley’s Law.”
Investigators said Greer and Cain tried to sell their five-month-old for $3,000.
The Elizabethton Police Department said they received information that someone was trying to sell a baby on Craigslist. Special agents with the TBI and FBI were called in to assist in the investigation and to answer the ad.
Later that day, the undercover agents were met by Cain and Greer, following through with the agreement they made over the phone. Instead of getting their money, the parents were taken to jail, and their child was taken into custody by the Department of Children’s Services.
In court, the state brought witnesses, like TBI Agent Chris Wilhoit, to testify.
“She said she had done this before,” Wilhoit said in court, “that she had I believe an 11-year-old daughter who was doing well… that she had given up in the past… in this way.”
Agent Wilhoit went undercover in a sting operation, posing as a preacher and meeting with the couple at the Dollar General at 25 Victory Boulevard on March 24 for an unusual transfer: exchanging their five-month-old baby for $3,000 cash.
“She had paperwork that she read to me,” Wilhoit said, “that she called guardianship paperwork saying she was giving me and my alleged wife guardianship of the child.”
His testimony released yet another surprise.
“She told me during the conversation that she was pregnant,” he said. “[She said] she got pregnant real easy, even when taking birth control pills. She said she was ill and had a tumor.”
Police Captain Joy Shoun, with the Elizabethton Police Department, and Detective Chuck Humphreys, with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, also testified Friday.
Shoun said she traded texts and phone calls with Greer to set up the meeting at the Dollar General.
“She was adamant that this was not in her words, quote selling the child,” Shoun said. When asked about her conversations with Greer, she said: “that this was an adoption and the three thousand dollars would be considered for expenses.”
Shoun also told prosecutor Chal Thompson that Greer suggested that they erase the text messages because it “might not look good.”
But the defense, attorneys Todd Estep and Johnathan Cave, raised questions of their own, like how the couple never wrote “for sale” in their Craigslist ad and how the state failed to present any evidence that Greer or Cain intended to harm the child.
The case was bound over to the Greene County grand jury.
Greer and Cain are being held on a $175 thousand bond each. Their next court date is scheduled for May 12.