L-R, MIchelle Tolley, William, and Faith.

CLARKSVILLE, TN – David and Michelle Tolley married in 2015, they had two children: Joseph, and Faith, now age 4. David adopted Michele’s son William, now 12. David had another son, Silas, now 9, who never got along with Michele. The couple separated in November 2017 and divorced in March 2020.

David said he left the marriage because Michelle hurt the kids. She said she left the marriage because David was not a good husband or a good father.

Their son Joseph died in 2016 when he was four months old. Michelle put him down on the floor, covered him with a blanket, and he threw up and choked to death on his own vomit. Five years later, David still grieves for Joseph and has never forgiven Michelle for Joseph’s death.

“When we were married he drank so much he didn’t even tend to the kids. And now, all of a sudden, he tries to play Father-of-the-Year… he acts like he’s so involved but it’s all about control,” Michelle said. 

“The marriage failed because my wife was constantly abusive to my children and the system won’t believe a father over a mother,” David said. 

In November 2017, Michelle pleaded guilty to two counts of felony child abuse for beating Silas with a belt and lying about taking Faith to the doctor when she was sick. She received probation for two years. Stewart County Juvenile Judge Andy Brigham gave David custody; Michele had unsupervised visitation.

Michelle told a Stuart County detective that it was David who beat the children. David said the detective never interviewed him. When there is an allegation of severe physical abuse, DCS immediately investigates. Based on Michelle’s allegation, DCS removed the children and put them in foster care with David’s mother, who lived next door.

For seven months, David saw the kids an hour a day. Juvenile Court judge Andy Brigham restored David’s custody and closed the case in May 2018 because there was no evidence to substantiate Michelle’s claim. 

The couple resumed equal time parenting time. A month later Michelle texted David and told him she had spanked Silas. David wouldn’t let Michelle get the kids after that. He said he was afraid what would happen if he did. 

Michelle went to Montgomery County District Judge Ted Crozier who ordered David to give Michelle visitation or be held in contempt of court. David said he complied. Michelle disputes that. She said she has filed three contempt petitions against David for not making exchanges with the children.

“I told her that if you’re not going to take care of the kids and they are going to get hurt and injured, I am not going to bow down and just ignore it,“ David said.

In August 2019 Michelle called 911 to report that Silas had raped Faith. Case manager Melanie Campbell told Michelle to take Faith for a forensic medical exam. They found no signs of sexual abuse. 

Nevertheless, Campbell had David agree to a list of house rules—no males would be in the same room with Faith, or wear shorts, or go bare chested. But the alleged sexual assault happened at Michelle’s house. Michelle said Campbell inspected her house, found nothing amiss, and did not require her to adhere to a list of rules.

Two months later on November 13, 2019 Michelle returned Faith to David. She was burning up with fever. “She was in Michelle’s care. I got her back and took her straight to the emergency room.”

Faith was admitted to Tennova Hospital overnight. Clarksville PD made a referral and David reported it to DCS, too. Records show Team Leader Sabrina Sanford and Case Manager Melanie Campbell visited the child and family and they closed the case the same day.

A year later, Campbell testified at the Tolleys’ final divorce hearing. “She’s a good mother,” Campbell told Judge Crozier. He ordered a 50-50 parenting plan. 

By this time, the kids had seen their baby brother die, they had endured beatings, they had seen their baby sister rushed to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital with an ear infection so bad it almost killed her. They watched Silas get placed at Heritage House, where, according to David, he will probably stay until he goes into juvenile detention because he sets fires, displays inappropriate sexual behavior, and has frequent uncontrolled rages. He is 9 years old. 

David and Michelle can’t stop fighting with each other. They say it’s because they have to protect the children. But in their ongoing war for custody, the kids have become collateral damage.

But that’s not how David sees itHe’s been documenting conversations, taken video and photos of bruises on the children, copied pages of texts between himself and Michelle hoping to gather enough evidence to show that Michelle is the abuser and a manipulative liar. But he said nobody in the Clarksville DCS office wanted to hear it. 

David is the villain in Michelle’s story. “It’s nonstop DCS calling and nonstop referrals.  I’m so tired of living in fear because of this guy. It’s unreal. I don’t understand why we can’t co-parent. It’s all about control though. This is how’s he’s been the whole time I was married to him. I had to get away,” she said.

There have been periods of peace and the children were much happier then. But they never lasted long. “With David it’s all about control and being the better parent. After a while he starts badmouthing me to my children and it leads to the point that it’s my job to protect them.” 

Guilty Until Proven Innocent 

“We went through nine case workers. Sometimes it would change every two weeks,“ David said. He was frustrated because he’d have to “go through it all again” with a new case manager who didn’t know anything about the case. They invariably told him everything would get investigated and things would be different. But they weren’t. Things got worse.

“They didn’t listen to anything I had to say. They didn’t look at any of the pictures or recordings or anything. As soon as she (Michelle) did her ‘boo-hoo’ victim story, they were all about her,” he said.

When parents lie to get their Ex in trouble, and when they coach the children to lie for them, the police, DCS, and the courts have to sort through it all to decide who’s telling the truth and who’s lying. 

When a serious allegation is made, DCS will preempt the investigation by removing the children or changing custody arrangements through the courts until the matter is resolved. That can take months. Michelle got custody after she reported on May 19, 2019 that David molested Faith. The accusation was later found to be groundless. 

Here’s how that happened: in May 2020 a therapist made a referral to DCS that William, age 10, may have molested Faith.

DCS Investigations Supervisor Karmen Davis immediately conducted an interview in David’s house on May 15, 2020. She was accompanied by Case Manager Erica Hicks-Prince. Davis asked Faith about William but, according to David, she answered about Michelle. Faith held her hands in front of herself and said that Michelle had done things to her private area. Davis took no action.  

Four days later on May 19, 2020 Michele claimed David sexually molested Faith.

She filed a report with the Clarksville DCS office. Karmen Davis took Faith for a forensic interview on May 20. Michelle brought Faith to the interview. Walking into the building Faith said “Daddy touches my pee pee.” Davis acted this time.

“They stripped custody of my kids from me and gave them to Michelle,” David said.

L-R, William, Silas, Faith, and David Tolley

A DCS White Knight

But in three subsequent forensic interviews Faith never mentioned David molesting her. Case Manager Blossom Ferrao suspected Michelle had coached Faith to accuse David. 

During the time Michelle had custody from May 2020-Nov.2020 David saw Faith in a supervised setting for one hour a week. He noticed that Faith had bruises on her legs and red marks on her arms and feet. He took photos and sent them to Case Manager Akendra Patterson. She did not open an investigation.

In November Ferrao conferred with Carmen Davis who acknowledged that Faith had accused Michelle, not William, in the May 15 interview. Ferrao reasoned that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If David lost custody over Michelle’s allegation she shouldn’t get custody when Faith had accused her of the same thing.

But there was also William who claimed David showed him porn on his cell phone. David said Michelle got William to say that because it never happened. Barnes put the children into foster care from November 2020 to May 2021. By then, DCS had concluded Michelle’s allegations against David were false and Barnes restored equal parenting time.

Dueling Judges

During the last two years Michelle and David have accused each other of abusing the children. They have each claimed the other parent lied to get them into trouble. Michelle reported Silas had sexually abused Faith. And a therapist reported that William may have molested Faith.

The war between David and Michelle has resulted in DCS taking the kids away from both parents twice. And DCS took the kids away from David and gave them to Michelle once. The brinkmanship between the parents played out in two different courtrooms.

David had a restraining order placed on him in District Court for allegations Michelle made in Juvenile Court which DCS later determined to be false. District Court Judge Ted Crozier granted the restraining order in May 2020. But Judge Barnes ordered the resumption of equal parenting time in May 2021.

Judge Crozier didn’t vacate his restraining order until last week. So for three months David was in contempt of Crozier’s order. Neither side told Crozier that they had agreed to ignore it because of Judge Barnes’ order. However, the same day Crozier removed the restraining order on David, Michelle filed for another one and asked for full custody. 

Crozier did not grant a new order and set a January 4, 2022 court date to permanently reinstate the parenting plan.


DCS is run by women. Of its 3227 employees, 2720 are female. When serious allegations are made, DCS sends a lawyer to court to protect the children. Mothers can easily manipulate the system and it has a short memory. All you have to do is make outrageous accusations against Dad. Even if they are later proven false, as in David Tolley’s case, nothing is likely to happen to you. In the meantime, you get the kids and can do whatever you want with them.

While courts tend to drag out proceedings for months, DCS investigators are supposed to close out cases within 60 days. Once a case is closed, it’s in the past and the next time a case is opened, the case manager will likely be someone the family doesn’t know and who doesn’t know the family history. 

DCSs investigators don’t generally testify in court trials. They confer with the DCS attorney who speaks to the judge. Sometimes the lawyer ignores what case managers tell them; sometimes they simply don’t know things. 

David had passed a four-hour psycho-sexual evaluation which concluded he was not a threat to Faith and the case manager knew that. But the DCS attorney asked for a 45-day delay because she didn’t have a copy of the results. 

Lawyers benefit from all the bad communication, drama, and distress in an extended custody battle. Michelle said she has been in court five times this year. David said he spent $27,000 on lawyers in the last three years. Perhaps DCS should start filing charges against lying parents and let a judge or jury decide if they committed perjury. A criminal charge carries real jail time.

Join the Conversation


  1. WHAT A COMPLETE LIE! I am disgusted at the crap said in this. I have court orders and proof of everything! I am sick of him lying and accusing me of this s___ that is NOT TRUE!

    1. It’s all true .. she abuses her children.. the men in her life always comes before these babies I know all of this and her personally

      1. Rita Pumpkin…. She has never once laid a hand on any of these kids, I should know, she is the stepmother to my 3 children(2 of whom I have full custody of) and they adore this woman like there own mother and trust me, the mothers of my 3 kids will fully cooperate when asked to witness her character…. If she was so abusive to the kids, why the hell did you side with her when your Olive Oyl looking daughter in law tried her damndest to take her now 9 year old son(your grandson for the record) out of the picture because of her jealousy of Michelle and wanted nothing to do with the kid for the first 5 years of his life, which wow was brought on by who?? Your self centered, egotistical son who was more worried about pumping himself full of steroids than he was caring for his own son…. So how did all that change because I’ve been in the picture for almost 3 years now and I can assure anybody that all she’s put up with since then is this child molester claiming she abused the kids and up until Michelle said she was trying to get 50/50 custody again because of said person in this articles blatant lies and photoshopping skills which you absolutely agreed with and your son flat out telling me he was gonna kill David when he seen him again because of him abusing your grandson, and now all of a sudden you change your time because he knows hanging this crap over her head had come to an end…. Of all people you should know what that coward done but because you wanna make sure your prescious son doesn’t lose his pride, you stab her in the back and lie lie lie to help them both while completely forgetting that your grandson was being abused by both those cowards!!! I sit and plainly watched that little boy kick his mother in the stomach(while she was pregnant) because he was pissed about having to go back to MansonHousin’s house so WTH does that tell you about his relationship with his mother??? How dare you come on this thread and blatantly lie about stuff to try and cover up your coward son and his best friend’s manipulative actions to take this woman down…. As I stated, we have the proof and will do what we have to do to make everything right but it’s funny that your coward son wants to hang up every time he gets called out for what he’s doing when he knows I was right for anything I said to him…. Where was you at when he tried to force himself on Michelle and rape her?? And I quote you” Oh that’s just how he is, he didn’t mean anything by that”…. So don’t you dare try to sit up and make this woman look bad when it’s your own damn flesh and blood coaching and mentally abusing the hell out of your grandson and his buddy molesting his 3 year old daughter, and another 14 year old girl who your damn son and daughter in law gave Michelle the name of the girl!!!! Yeah so those are the facts and I can sit here and type all day to let anybody know the damn truth about these two that I myself have seen and like I said we have all the proof…. Also, good to see what your husband has stated about the judges in these cases, I’m sure that’ll work out real well for all involved

  2. Well this woman has been an abuser to all of her children including 1 she has custody of .. she has had DSC called on her in 4 states that I am aware of . I’m so tired of worthless women like this continuing the abuse of our children and getting away with it . When is enough , ENOUGH… Judges PLEASE get to know the children and protect them !

    1. Rita Lampkin, why don’t you tell the whole truth here?? Let’s talk about how much you despised the dad in this article and you and him both were told by her other son that David was the one that was abusing these kids and that he ordered Michelle not to take the other son around this man… Let’s talk about how this man raped the 14 year old babysitter, statutory rape on her 16 year old sister and is on probation for breaking into another woman’s house and trying to rape her, luckily she got away… Let’s talk about how your son had nothing to do with your grandchild for the first 5 years of his life until he seen the opportunity of not having to pay child support and took the kid away after him and David Conspired (setting there hatred for each other aside for the moment should I add) to take Michelle down simply so he could get back at her for the child support that he was obligated to pay?? Let’s talk about the outstanding young man you raised( cough cough) that was kicked out of the military for trying to kill a fellow soldier, who spent money that should’ve been towards his son on making sure he had enough supply of steroids to inject in himself, who gave multiple women std’s and whom after getting married to the woman he’s married to now, slept with said woman’s 15 year old sister when he himself was 25??? Let’s talk about your set up of Michelle and how you helped a lifelong cheater and abuser made her lose her other son temporarily all because of your two faced actions that I tried to tell her y’all were setting her up this whole time??? It’s funny that your sons best friend now also failed a lie detector test when questioned about molesting his 3 year old daughter!!! But your sorry butt wants to set up and blame Michelle for this stuff when you know good and dang well she was innocent but because you wanna take up for your prescious son, now she’s had to battle both of them for the past 2 years and can’t live a normal life because of your son and his new best friend… Let’s also talk about the fact that this all started on your side when your jealous daughter in law approached Michelle about not going back to court to get 50/50 with her son and that they would settle it outside court, and when Michelle confirmed she would, Wow!!, guess what?? All of a sudden she has court motions thrown at her!!!! And how dare you try to write in this newspaper that she’s got 4 states with DCS calls?? Another one of your lies!!! Here’s my suggestion to you, you have no clue what is going on, so keep your mouth shut!!! You don’t see the pain and fear in Williams eyes every day that he has to go to this animals house and how deep in depression he’s in that only goes away when he knows he doesn’t have to go around him!!! But thank you for helping this child molester out and the pain you’ve caused this family, I hope it’s worth it for you and your narcissistic son…. Any more proof you want, just reach out and have a chat with me just like the one time I talked to you and you told me all this stuff about the man(or should I say boy) listed in this article, remember that??? God will judge us all one day and what will you say when all this is brought up??? You took up for a child molester and abuser and tried to blame someone else simply so your egotistical narcissistic son didn’t have to pay child support…. What a loving grandmother and mother you are!!!!

        1. Because she lived in my home as we took care of her and the kids , trust me when I tell you there is so much more to all of this .

    2. Rita Lampkin, why don’t you tell the rest of the story here, or maybe some truth?? You happen to be the grandmother of her other child so why don’t you tell the scheme of your son and your new best friend David… How about the aforementioned coming to your son who he hated for years after your grandson told him that David was abusing him and then all of a sudden he takes his side, but why?? Explain that one, and how your son didn’t take ownership of your grandson for the first 5 years of his life and left Michelle with that role even after he wanted him aborted… Ahhh there’s so much more to this story that I can add after you answer these questions!!! In the meantime stop your blatant lies please!! Also don’t make Michelle spit out your little lifelong secret of the hotel days that your husband who is also on here may see… wink wink!!!

      1. Wow your so not getting the reason for this article you are a very ignorant man .. you just keep believing her and we will talk one day when the real truth smacks you in the face . (David Hollywood) Halloway

        1. No Rita you will be running to us when the truth smacks you in the face and Jeffrey grows up and matures and realizes how much yal lied and dogged me just to protect your son to not have to take owner ship of disowning my son. My kids r nothing but money symbols to these guys. But ur to ignorant to see that even when it was none stop fighting for 5 yrs with ur son and his wife u hated bcuz they never wanted to pay a penny for him! Open ur eyes and speak the truth for once.

  3. Has anyone else noticed a pattern here? I understand that the system is under staffed and over worked. I also know it is hard to figure out who is telling the truth and who is lying. But at the expense of innocent children. I have personally sat in the courtroom and have seen a judge do nothing but grant an extension. The only winners here are the lawyers. Actual physically evidence (pictures) is shown to the judge and all we do is get another extension, while it continues to happen again and again. When will the madness stop? These poor kids have been through so much and still have to endure even more! You might ask yourself why but, how about we ask the judges in this case why. Why would a judge continue to let this go on and continue putting the children at risk? Sounds to me like a couple of judges need to be brought up on charges for child abuse and neglect! Again, how many more years is this going to continue? Some fault lies with the system but a judge could put a stop to it! I can guarantee if it was his children or grandchildren things would be much different! A very sad time for these children and the judges don’t give a crap!

  4. It’s more that obvious,that these children belong with their dad!! And shame on DCS for dragging their feet, this is how children end up dead.

  5. How are you going to say all this about my mom when that’s not true? I’m 12 years old and I’m now old enough to see the truth of who is a liar and who’s not. My mom is none of this. She takes care of my sister and I and has never done what everyone is saying. She has a past when she was married to my dad but there is more to the story then what people know. I was there when it happened. She did not hurt my baby brother and would never her any of us. I have sat back and watched the pain in my mom eyes dealing with everything from my little brothers family and her ex husband. Rita and Todd were my oma and opa and I thought they cared about me and my brother and sister. They hated my dad when my mom was married to him And now all I see is is how much they don’t care and how they act all like best friends and treat my mom so bad with all the lies. It’s hurtful to me but I know my mom is a strong woman and when my brother gets older he will see who the liars were to. I wish everyone would listen to me and stop believing all the lies just to hurt my mom.

  6. I have so many memories and regrets for my son marrying this woman. I told him not to do it but what kids listen to their mothers? I had hopes but I knew it was not good. She had two sons and I loved them with all my heart. Joseph finally come along and he was me and Anthony’s world. His smile was like no other. Michelle could care less about him for the fact he was David’s world then. I was there for his birth and his death. I felt like my world ended when i heard of what happened to him. I was woke up out of dead sleep with the call and ran to the hospital and found him lifeless with Rita standing in tears. Michelle on the other hand was just worrying about having a cigarette. I remember going to Nashville that night when he was life lighted. I remember when she chose to have him taken off life support when i begged her and David to let me care for him. I told them i would quit my job and take care of him no matter what. David told me ” mom she wants him unplugged and she is his mom.” I watched that baby unplugged and my life felt useless. She had her friend video tape it for facebook. After she was done with her facebook videos she laid him on the bed before he was even purple and said she needed a cigarette. No remorse, no nothing for her own child. I have 3 sons and I love them with all my heart! So i can’t possibly understand a mother like this. Since then I have had Michelle come into my house and threaten the kids and David. I put a restraining order out and because she told lies and cried her usual tears i was not granted it. Judge Brighan in Dover told me I should have had witnesses but no one told me this. I have never been in court before. I had these kids for 6 months in my care when they where taken from Michelle and David because of her lies . It was the hardest thing ever to give them back to her but i had no choice because grandparents have no rights in Tennessee. I have seen Michelle do so many things to these babies that is not right. She is a abusive mother and not only physical but verbal. She has made William into a liar, filling his head full of lies. They deserve so much better. She will tell lies on me now like she has on Rita but that’s ok. Everyone needs to know the type of person she truly is. The man up above knows the truth and will take care of it in his own time. I just pray that it’s not too late for Faith and William.

  7. Wow! Why would any parent allow a child to see this yet alone respond to it? I feel so sorry for these children and DCS sucks!!!

  8. Everyone in6needs to grow up and stop putting yourself before the kids.
    I believe these kids would be better off adopted into a home who actually loves them !

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