Seymour father opens up after children’s mother pleads guilty in drowning death


SEYMOUR, Tenn. (WATE)- Matthew Carriker took the stand after his wife, Bethanie Carriker, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated child neglect Monday morning.

His witness impact statement was the first time Matthew Carriker spoke to the public about his daughters and what he’s faced after the tragic day in May.

Matthew Carrker in court on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019 (Photo: WATE)

According to an arrest report, Bethanie Carriker stated that on May 7, she placed her two children into a bathtub and left the room. She returned 10-12 minutes later and found both unresponsive. Her 15-month old, Calliope Carriker, died and emergency responders were able to resuscitate the 19-day-old, Penelope Carriker.

“I’m learning how to live again without the most important people in my life. With the new life that needs protecting, and with the life that I failed to protect,” Matthew Carriker said on the stand.

He said he supported the District Attorney’s position and the 25 years with 85% served for the mother of his children.

Matthew Carriker said though, that any punishment would never be enough, because Calliope can never come back.

“I’m running out of pictures and videos. There will never be a new picture or video of Calliope. And that’s not fair,” Matthew Carriker said.

Photo Courtesy of Calliope Cares. Calliope Carriker died on May 7 after her mother, Bethanie Carriker, left her alone in a bathtub.

He said Calliope’s memory will live on. He will always keep the urn containing her ashes in the home and tell stories about her to Penelope as she grows up.

Matthew Carriker also said he started a nonprofit in Calliope’s name, called ‘Calliope Cares,’ to help other Tennessee families in similar situations.

“I found it too hard and too long to collect all the free resources there are locally for parents in need,” he said.

The Facebook page for the organization says the following about the group’s purpose: “Calliope Cares strives to protect helpless children in domestic violence situations through raising awareness and educating people on how to keep innocent children safe during the times they need it most.”

The organization’s website also has a link to report child abuse.

“Calliope would’ve protected her sister if she could have. She would’ve protected every child if she could have. and in her death she will…Calliope will continue to live. Her story will save lives, for she was the martyr we should’ve never had,” Matthew Carriker said.

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