VONORE, TN – A mother from Georgia is currently in police custody, facing charges of attempted murder. Authorities allege that she attempted to drown her child before driving her vehicle into Tellico Lake. The incident occurred on Wednesday at the Sea Ray Boats’ Vonore facility in Monroe County, near Fort Loudoun State Park.
The child informed the police that her mother, identified as 38-year-old Jessica Upton of Douglasville, Georgia, had been behaving unusually for two days prior to the incident. According to arrest reports, Upton ignored the Sea Ray Boat Company’s security gate and drove through. Witnesses reported seeing her exhale what seemed to be marijuana smoke into the child’s face and force the child to consume alcoholic iced tea.
Upton then allegedly took her child into the water and attempted to drown her by holding her underwater. Employees at the boat facility intervened, rescuing the child and separating her from Upton. Upton then drove her car to the neighboring MasterCraft Boat Company parking lot, where she accelerated and drove into the lake. She managed to escape from the sinking car through the driver’s side window.
Bystanders apprehended Upton after she swam to shore and attempted to flee into the woods. Upon arrival, police took Upton into custody, noting that she appeared intoxicated. A Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper was called in to investigate the possibility of driving under the influence. After speaking with Upton and taking a blood sample, the trooper confirmed suspicions of intoxication.
The child is now safe and has been placed with relatives in Georgia. The Vonore Police Department is collaborating with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services on the case. The child revealed to the police that her mother had initially told her they were going to visit her grandmother in New York. She also mentioned a stop at a gas station where Upton purchased the alcoholic teas, and a car wash where Upton discarded all of the child’s belongings.
Upton is facing charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and DUI. As of Friday, she was being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.