Invisible Children

5 children of Robert Simons and Mary Tittle

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

robert simons mary tittle
Five children, ages 7 to 13, were neglected and denied medical care by their parents, Robert H. Simons III and Mary Ella Tittle. The children’s grandmother, Roberta Sauls, knew about the neglect and did nothing. A woman who lived with the family, Leona Patricia Bentler, also knew about the neglect and did nothing. Her 8-year-old daughter was also neglected. Simons and Tittle evaded social services for years, telling officials in Tennessee that they were homeschooling in Pennsylvania, and telling officials in Pennsylvania that they were homeschooling in Tennessee. Although Tittle tried to teach the kids what little she knew, she was not successful and the children could not read or write, did not know their ages or last names, and could not brush their teeth or hold a pencil.

The oldest girl was suffering from advanced kidney disease and an infected rat bite when an anonymous tip brought social services to the door. She recovered after a kidney transplant and the children began to attend school in their foster home. Simons and Tittle were each found guilty on two counts of aggravated child neglect. Simons was sentenced to 18 years in prison; Tittle got 17 years. Charges against Bentler were dropped.

Date: April 22, 2010
Jonesborough, Tennessee


Documents: Date:
Five children living in ‘deplorable’ conditions removed from Jonesborough house, bus; two adults arrested 04-29-2010
Two more charged from Jonesborough child abuse case — grandmother included 05-05-2010
Child neglect case takes surprise twist in court 11-17-2010
Children’s interviews to be used in abuse case 08-26-2011
Child Neglect Trial Begins 02-28-2012
Testimony continues in Simons/Tittle child neglect trial 03-01-2012
Jury weighing neglect charges 03-07-2012
Simons, Tittle found guilty of aggravated child neglect 03-08-2012
Father gets 18 years, mother gets 17 years in child neglect case 04-12-2012
Tittle, Simons child neglect case will soon be in the hands of a jury 12-20-2012