Mother Accused of Tattooing Children Talks to Eyewitness News - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Mother Accused of Tattooing Children Talks to Eyewitness News

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Homemade Tattooing Device Found in Couple's Home Homemade Tattooing Device Found in Couple's Home
Jacob Edward Bartels charged with Child Cruelty Jacob Edward Bartels charged with Child Cruelty
Patty "Jo Jo" Marsh charged with Child Cruelty Patty "Jo Jo" Marsh charged with Child Cruelty

Callie Starnes
Eyewitness News Reporter


CHATTOOGA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- The mother accused of tattooing her own children invited Eyewitness News inside her home today to set the record straight.

"We were making it look like it was a cross," said Jo-Jo Marsh, "so the kids could have something they could say it was."

Jo-Jo Marsh shows Eyewitness News the tattoo on her son's hand. The mark is a cross-like symbol left by a home-made tattoo gun with a guitar string as a needle.

"We didn't even break the skin barely," said Marsh, "they are very tiny, just through a few layers, on the top, they will fade away, that's how minuscule this is."

Marsh and her husband, Jacob Bartels, face child cruelty charges after detectives found the same mark on six of the couple's seven children. One of the children is just 10 years-old.

"There was a seven year-old child that they determined was too young for the tattoo at this time," said Chattooga County Sheriff John Everett.

The couple's 17 year-old has a larger tattoo on the arm. Marsh admits her husband used the gun to draw it too, but insists she tested it first to make sure her children were not harmed.

"These tattoos are so minuscule, they will fade away," said Marsh.

We asked Marsh if she knew it was illegal to tattoo children in the state of Georgia.

"Oh God no," she responded, "that's why I was tripping so hard, that's why I was so upset."

Marsh defends her actions saying the kids were begging for tattoos like hers.

She told us multiple times during our interview that she changed the needle each time.

Marsh believes as the children's guardian, she should have the right to tattoo them if she chooses.

"Shouldn't I have say so over what goes on in my child's life," said Marsh, "I have custody of my child, I'm not going to hurt my child."

The Department of Family and Children's Services has stepped in to investigate the tattooing that Sheriff deputies estimate to have happened around Thanksgiving.

The children were removed from the home temporarily, but Marsh says her children were released back to her under a parent plan until case heads to court.

A court date has not been set for Bartels or Marsh.


CHATTOOGA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -- A North Georgia couple is accused of tattooing six children with a homemade device.

Patty Jo Marsh and Jacob Edward Bartels were arrested Monday when the mother of one of the children discovered a tattoo on her daughter's hand and contacted police.

Marsh and Bartels are accused of tattooing a small "x" on the hands of six juveniles, ranging in age from 10 to 17. Each faces multiple charges including child endangerment and cruelty to children charges.

Both suspects are out on bond. The Department of Family and Child Services is a part of the investigation.

Chattooga County officers tell Channel 3 Eyewitness News that while in jail, Marsh told officers she didn't know it was illegal to tattoo children.

Stay with and Channel 3 Eyewitness News for more on this developing story.

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