From behind bars, young Murfreesboro woman gets new, sober start at life

Zahnaee Chaney (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A 20-year-old Nashville woman has been in the Cheatham County jail close to seven weeks.

She’s charged with a number of crimes, including stealing an Ashland City police car and racing it at high speed to Nashville.

The young woman told News 2 her current situation is the direct result of drugs and alcohol that she began using as a young teen.

We first met Zahnaee Chaney in mid-August inside the jail.

“I was actually intoxicated. I feel embarrassed,” she said.

Zahnaee Chaney at the time of her arrest in August 2017. (Photo: WKRN)

At the time, she was emotional, having just been charged with theft and stealing the police car, which she said she drove with the lights and sirens blaring over 100 mph.

She was eventually tackled and held for authorities by a bail bondsman who just happened to be nearby.

Chaney previously said she began using drugs and alcohol at just 13 years old.

“Makes you feel like a demon once it is inside you,” she said with tears streaming down her face.

News 2 visited her again on Sept. 26. She was in the same jail—but she was a different person.

Seven weeks of sobriety has given the young woman a new, invigorated glow.

“I’m living now. I feel energized. I am focused on my school,” Chaney told News 2.

(Photo: WKRN)

She looks healthier and says she has put on weight. She is dedicated to starting a new life, one that begins with education, a job, and sobriety.

“What has been like in here?” asked Reporter Andy Cordan.

“A lesson learned,” Chaney responded.

She explained it all started with marijuana when she was in middle school in Murfreesboro.

Chaney said she was a promising basketball player at Riverdale High School but dropped out sophomore year and began running from the light.

She said that’s when she started drinking alcohol and using more drugs—pot, to ice, to meth.

(Photo: WKRN)

She says she moved on to crack cocaine and used powder cocaine, saying she took pills but was too scared to use needles.

Chaney told News 2 she was adopted and abused, so she ran away, always looking over her shoulder.

When asked what she missed out on, she replied, “My childhood, finishing school and graduating.”

But now, the 20-year-old says she is changed—and has a word of advice to the next kid on the verge of being her.

“Slow down. Calm down. Think. You have parents who love you and care for you and education is the main thing that you need to succeed in life,” Chaney told News 2.

Her bond was only $5,000 when she was arrested, but her family kept her in jail.

She says her mom has a job waiting for her and she is going to get her GED because she says education is the key.

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