Runaway ‘re-aged’ by mother remains in state custody

Runaway 're-aged' by mother remains in state custody (Image 1)

An 18-year-old teen revealed to have been “re-aged” by his mother to appear to be two years younger, remains in DCS custody.

Susan Smithburg had been charged with aggravated child abuse and child neglect in connection with an incident where her son Christopher said she made him do 1,500 push-ups for burning toast.

Christopher, who was believed to be 16, disappeared from his family’s Nolensville property, March 27.

SLIDESHOW: Missing Nolensville teen

Multiple agencies and volunteers searched for the teen for six days before a man spotted him on his property living in a shelter he created.

Susan Smithburg was subsequently arrested on the abuse and neglect charge.

During a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, she revealed that Christopher is in fact 18-years-old.

She told the court she changed his age so he could get into a school.  She provided a passport and certified birth certificate from the Philippines where Christopher and his brother were adopted from by the Smithburgs.

Christopher appeared not to know he was 18 when questioned by the judge.

The child abuse and neglect charges were dismissed by the judge because Christopher was not a minor when the incident happened.

News 2 contacted the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and Williamson County Emergency Management to find out if they would bill Smithburg for the man hours and resources the search for Christopher cost.

If authorities knew he was 18, he would not have been considered a runaway.

News 2 is waiting to hear back from both agencies, but the cost may include calculating the man hours for the other counties that sent search crews.

It also would not count the time around 75 volunteers spent looking Christopher.

The Williamson County taxpayers News 2 talked to said Smithburg should reimburse the county.

“My opinion is that was an obvious lie and wrong on all aspects,” Bre Lyng said. “It’s not ok whatsoever.”

Rebecca Dent agreed, “I think it seems like the right thing to do.”

DCS would not comment on the case specifically, but did tell News 2 that in cases like the Smithburg case, DCS will petition the court to order child support payments from the parents of children they take into foster care.

Also in court, Smithburg revealed she may have used the incorrect birthdate for her son on income tax returns where she claimed him as a dependent.

According to the IRS, under Title 26 USC 7206 (1), the fraud and false statement section, Smithburg could face up to three years in prison, $250,000 in fines or both if the IRS were to investigate and file charges.

The IRS would not comment specifically on Smithburg’s situation.

Williamson County’s District Attorney’s office told News 2 that they are still reviewing evidence in the case and could present it to a grand jury for charges against Smithburg.

That is a decision that will be made by District Attorney Kim Helper, her office said.

The Smithburgs have a June juvenile court date. DCS said a judge could then rule on whether Christopher will remain in state custody.

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