Couple accused of tattooing children

Two Chattooga County parents have been released on bond after charges that they tattooed six children with a homemade contraption consisting of electrical cord, spliced wiring and a guitar string for a needle.

Patty Jo Marsh and Jacob Edward Bartels bonded out of the Chattooga County Jail on Wednesday on $10,000 property bonds each, according to jail reports. They were arrested Dec. 28, reports show.

"It's unusual," said Chattooga County Sheriff John Everett. "I've never seen parents tattooing their kids like that."

Both Ms. Marsh and Mr. Bartels were tattooed with the device and, on the same day, six of their children -- a 10-year-old, two 11-year-olds, a 12-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old -- also were tattooed, the sheriff said.

Sheriff Everett said the only person not tattooed was a 7-year-old boy.

"They said he was too young," the sheriff said.

The Georgia Department of Family and Children's Services was contacted, Sheriff Everett said, and he believe all the children were placed with other family members.

No court date has been set for either suspect.

A Chattooga County investigator learned of the tattooing when the mother of one of the 11-year-old children reported the incident, Sheriff Everett said.

Mr. Bartels was the 11-year-old girl's father, the sheriff said, and her mother had picked her up from his home when she noticed a small X near the web of the girl's hand between the thumb and index finger.

The girl told her mother it was a fake tattoo, the sheriff said, but when the mother couldn't wipe off the tattoo, she knew it was permanent.

All six children were tattooed with the same needle, in the same way and on the same place on their bodies.

PDF: Arrest report

"As far as we know, there were no medical issues," he said.

Sheriff Everett said he doesn't have an exact date when the tattooing occurred, but believes it was sometime shortly after Thanksgiving but before Dec. 15.

"We don't really have a definitive reason as to why they did it," he said. "I think the father made a comment that he wanted to do something simple," which is why the man chose crosses, although they ended up looking more like Xs.