KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Evelyn Mae Boswell – the Tennessee toddler missing now for months – was born into chaos to a teen mom whose childhood had been marred by domestic violence, family upheaval and isolation, a Knox News investigation of court and public records shows.
Evelyn, a 15-month-old girl with wispy reddish-blonde hair and big blue eyes, remains nowhere to be found – despite almost two weeks of intense media coverage across the nation of her reported disappearance. Authorities say she hasn’t been seen since mid-December.
Evelyn’s mom, Megan “Maggie” Boswell, is now behind bars after an arrest warrant stated she refused to tell the truth about her baby’s whereabouts. She’s been spinning yarns – the sheriff's office called them "inaccuracies" – in television interviews, too.
Evelyn’s maternal grandmother, Angela Mae Boswell, was just released Friday from that same Sullivan County Jail, accused of fleeing town in a stolen car with a boyfriend after her ex-husband – Evelyn’s grandfather – reported the toddler missing Feb. 18.
And Evelyn’s grandfather, Tommy Boswell Sr., isn’t talking publicly – especially to journalists.
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“You’re all vultures,” he told the USA TODAY Network's Knox News this week in an encounter at the Boswell family compound in the tiny town of Blountville where Evelyn once lived.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office has been working around the clock – with help from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the FBI – to figure out where Evelyn is and, more importantly, whether she’s safe and alive.
Sullivan Sheriff Jeff Cassidy and Captain Andy Seabolt said Evelyn’s mother's story has changed multiple times. Cassidy's agency isn’t saying much else, though. Search warrants have been obtained, authorities have confirmed, but remain sealed. Cassidy has said the agency remains “hopeful” the toddler is alive but has quashed the idea of citizen searches.
Knox News has been sifting through court and public records this week to glean a portrait of the Boswell clan into which Evelyn was born.
A rocky start
Angela Boswell was just 16 when she gave birth to Tommy Boswell Sr.’s first son – Tommy Jr. – in 1993. A background check shows Tommy racked up an assault charge in Sullivan County a few months after the boy’s birth, but the specific details on the arrest are no longer available. A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report shows he was convicted of misdemeanor assault a year later in that case.
The couple, records show, eventually moved to Bulls Gap, Tennessee. In March 2001, Angela Boswell gave birth to the couple’s second child – Megan Boswell, Evelyn’s mother. Angela married Tommy Boswell Sr. a few months later.
By 2009, the couple was back in Sullivan County, settling the kids in a manufactured home atop a hill on a family-owned plot of land.
But there was little harmony inside those walls, court records show. In March of that year, Tommy Boswell Sr. told deputies his wife attacked him, stabbing his neck with an ink pen, and struggling with their then-14-year-old son, Tommy Jr., as he tried to rescue his dad.
Months later, records show, an angry Tommy Boswell Sr., showed up at the home of his wife’s father, David Lynn Jones. Jones would later tell authorities Tommy Boswell Sr. accused his son of theft and had been drinking when he sped away in his Chevy Camaro.
“Less than three minutes later, Jones stated the power went off at his house,” a warrant stated.
Angela Boswell was with Jones and claimed her husband called her minutes later to say he’d crashed the Camaro and ran away. She initially told authorities she was driving but – under prodding by Jones – later insisted she lied to protect her husband, court records show.
Tommy Boswell Sr. refused to return to the crash scene but eventually paid a fine for leaving the scene of an accident.
Less than two years after that incident, Tommy Boswell Sr. was angry again – this time because another man was inside his home with his wife, according to an affidavit of complaint.
It was a cold February morning in 2012 when Brandon Yates and Angela Boswell awakened to shouts from outside the Muddy Creek home in which they had been sleeping, court records stated.
Angela Boswell was naked and said she could hear her husband’s truck – and his voice – outside. When Brandon Yates went to the door, the Boswells' son, Tommy Jr., threatened him with “some type of wooden club” and told him to come outside, arrest warrants state.
Yates did, heading down the steep driveway leading to the exit of the Boswell family compound.
“Brandon said that he was about half way down the driveway to Muddy Creek Road when he observed a grey colored Chevrolet pickup truck with ‘Tommy’s Paving’ on the side … heading straight for him,” the warrant states.
“Brandon stated that he was in fear for his life, and he began running toward a fence that was in the yard,” it continued. “Brandon stated that he was unable to outrun the truck and was struck by the vehicle … and was flipped over the hood and landed on the driveway.”
He later told Sullivan County deputies Tommy Boswell Sr., his son and a third, unidentified man surrounded him, kicking and punching him, before he broke free and ran to a neighbor’s house for help.
When detectives called Tommy Boswell Sr., he confessed “the three of us did work him over” but hung up, a warrant stated. The two Boswell men – Tommy Jr. was 19 by then – were arrested.
Seventeen months later, a reunited Tommy Boswell Sr. and his wife celebrated the birth of another son, Elijah. Tommy Boswell Sr. and his son soon struck plea deals in the Yates assault, garnering probation.
But it didn’t take long for trouble to erupt once again in the Boswell home.
Divorce and reconciliation
Angela Boswell filed for divorce from her husband in September 2014 – two months before Elijah’s first birthday. Megan Boswell was 13. She wanted custody of both. She got the divorce over with a year later in an agreed settlement entered at a hearing Tommy Boswell Sr. didn’t attend.
A year later, the couple were celebrating another birth – Charlotte Boswell. By the time Charlotte was two years old, the Boswells were again in turmoil, records show.
It was early fall of 2018 and the Boswells were separated again. Angela Boswell was shuffling the three children – a pregnant Megan plus Elijah and Charlotte – between the Muddy Creek compound, her father’s home in Kingsport and an apartment in Johnson City, records show.
Her driver’s license was suspended. The tags on her car were expired. Police repeatedly stopped her, often finding her children unrestrained, records show. She was repeatedly jailed.
Tommy Boswell Sr. insisted she was endangering their children, including Megan, and asked a judge to award custody to him.
“(Angela Boswell) is currently in jail,” Tommy Boswell Sr. wrote in a petition for a restraining order against her. “She has stated that she is out for blood and she will get revenge on me when she is released from jail.
“I am in fear for myself and my children, Megan, Elijah and Charlotte Boswell,” he wrote. “She is using illegal drugs in front of our children. She is exposing our children to criminals.”
Tommy Boswell Sr. won his request and moved the children back to Muddy Creek. Angela Boswell, nabbed trying to sneak stimulant pills into jail, was behind bars when Megan's baby Evelyn was born, records show.
And a new life
Evelyn’s father, Ethan Perry, joined the military before she was born. So far, he has remained largely silent about her disappearance. There isn’t much known about the relationship between Perry and Megan Boswell – when it began and when it ended.
Photographs of Evelyn suggest she and her mom were living at the Boswell family compound with Megan Boswell’s two younger siblings at some point before she disappeared.
Tommy Boswell Sr. operates – with Tommy Jr. – a paving company from the compound, which now includes three manufactured homes, a double bay garage, a work shed and a stable of dump trucks, heavy equipment and personal vehicles. A Sullivan County Sheriff's Office captain says Elijah and Charlotte are living there now with Tommy Sr.
Angela Boswell was continuing to rack up arrests in 2019 for shoplifting and driving offenses. Sometimes, she told authorities she was living at Muddy Creek. Other times, she listed her father’s address or the Kingsport apartment.
Megan Boswell lamented in September 2019 in a Facebook post that her life was tough but Evelyn made it bearable.
“I'm not the best mom in the world, but I try so hard for this little beauty,” she wrote. “I can't even explain the love I feel for her, and I know she loves me too. Lately my life’s been really sucky but she'll come reach for me and say ‘mom mom’ and my heart melts and I'm reminded of her unconditional love.
“You can say whatever you want about me being a young mom, but I promise you my life is so much better with this angel,” she wrote. “My life wasn’t ruined when I had her, she gave me a purpose and a reason to wake up every day and to better myself. There’s no love like the love from your child!”
Five months later, Megan Boswell hasn't explained where her angel is.
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This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Evelyn Boswell: Missing Tennessee toddler's family racked by chaos