Police charge parents with child abuse after waitress’ Facebook post

PADUCAH — Jordan Cooper doesn’t usually work Sunday nights.

“I work weekends at Olive Garden, but I care for them [niece and nephew] through out the week when my sister works,” Cooper said.

During Cooper’s shift, she and her coworkers noticed something unusual about a family they just seated. “I first walked around to the baby. She looked at me with a face that said help,” Cooper said.

She was serving a table with two parents and two children. One of the children was only a year old.

“I can’t even describe to you how bad she looked,” Cooper said pointing to her face, “and how and why nobody noticed it.”

A nearby table took these photos to capture a photo of Mark Lee Pierce.

The expecting mother immediately went into action and took a photo with another table to capture the parents and two children behind them.

“I had slid them my number, and they sent them (the photos) to me as soon as they walked out the door.”

She says the adults at the table started to get suspicious, and they tried to pay their check. She followed the couple outside, took their license plate number, and called 911.

“I immediately got home and plugged my phone up,” Cooper said. “I could not just not know what was going to happen to her.”

Mark Lee Pierce is in jail on a bond of $200 thousand.

She shared the photo of the little girl and the partial plate number, and she asked people on Facebook to help track the parents down. “My phone would not just stop going off,” Cooper said. Her post was shared more than 14,000 times. A childhood classmate saw that post and started digging.

“I got everything so I could run him and find who he was. “said Aaron Caldwell, a Metropolis 911 dispatcher. “I found that and ended up contacting Paris Police Department, Tennessee.”

He went back to Facebook to get more information on the women as well.

Jessica Woodworth is in jail on a bond of $200 thousand.

“I even went further into it through social media to find his girlfriend, who lived in Pulaski, Illinois,” Caldwell said.

He called both agencies, and 20 minutes later he got a call back from the Paris Police Department. They removed two children from the home and arrested Jessica Woodworth and Mark Lee Pierce on charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect.

“There’s a lot of times we don’t find people like this,” Caldwell said.

Cooper said saying something changed a life.

“I’m so glad that I did, because she could still be getting hands put on her.”

For more stories like this follow Shamarria Morrison on Facebook.

911 dispatcher explains why he decided to look into the Facebook post further:

Waitress explains what was going through her mind while helping serve the table: