Updated at 7:29 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, with more information.

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Damyelle Miller

It was just after midnight on Sunday when a woman called Chattanooga police to report a 13-year-old runaway.

She told police he ran away because he was afraid of being in trouble for "taking a bag of popcorn that wasn't his," according to Hamilton County Court records.

"The family has separate eating arrangements," she explained, and the bag of popcorn belonged to 36-year-old Damyelle Miller, court records show.

The woman told police her son had a history of running away, the most recent instance being on May 7. She gave police a description of what the teen was wearing, though she didn't know which direction he had gone.

But as police were leaving, dispatchers radioed in to let them know a neighbor had just reported a runaway juvenile and it could be the same boy. They told police the two would be waiting at the Neighborhood Grocery store in the 5200 block of Central Avenue.

When police arrived, the neighbor told them the boy, whom she knew, had knocked on her door and asked for her help, something he'd done before.

As police spoke to the juvenile, they learned more about what allegedly happened.

He told police he was caught eating the bag of popcorn that wasn't his. But it was the adult's alleged actions that caused him to run away.

He said Miller was in bed at the time, but when he heard about what the boy had done, he got a firearm out of a nightstand and pointed it at the boy and said, "One day I'm going to kill you," the boy told police.

The boy then said his mother then "came after him in an aggressive manner," and that's why he chose to run away to seek help.

He told police he's only allowed to eat grits three times per day, so he resorts to stealing food. He also told police his mother chokes him and Miller "uses a firearm as a scare tactic often."

Because of the severity of the boy's allegations, police and Child Protective Services decided to relocate the juvenile to a police precinct where social workers interviewed him and decided he should not return to the home.

Both Miller and the boy's mother were asked to appear at the precinct to discuss the situation. When they arrived, they were both taken into custody.

Miller was charged with aggravated assault and child neglect. The mother was also initially charged, though she does not appear to have been booked, according to online court and jail records.

The boy was placed in state custody.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.