Homeless woman with Asperger’s found living under bridge, Good Samaritan takes her in

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Christian Turner's life is much different than what it was nearly three weeks ago when a Good Samaritan gave her a place to stay.

Misty Hyde of Paragould said she found 18-year-old Turner, who has Asperger's syndrome, outside a restaurant in Paragould. Turner told Hyde she had been living under a bridge. "She'd been using sticks and lighter fluid. She had two eggs, a spatula and molded cheese, and a piece of bread, and had no idea that those eggs could've made her really sick if she had eaten them."

Turner, who is originally from Walnut Ridge, said she lived in dozens of foster homes growing up. She said she had been living where ever she could find since she aged out of the foster care system in July 2011.

"I didn't know what I was going to do everyday. I knew I was going to go around (and) pick up scrap metal, and sell it to a scrap yard, and get something to eat, and if I didn't make enough money I'd go pick peaches out of a peach tree and eat them."

Greene County Special Needs Association Secretary Teresa Cunningham heard about Turner's story and contacted Region 8 News in hopes of getting help for the young woman.

"The wheels started clicking and I wanted to know how this could happen, how this child fell through the cracks," she said.

As the mother of 15-year-old Steven Cunningham, a nonverbal autistic boy, Teresa wonders why Turner seemingly has not received the help she needs.

"There's not a lot of things that brings my husband to tears, but when he was trying to tell me about this story, he couldn't."

Wednesday in a Lawrence County circuit court hearing Hyde told a judge Turner suffered abuse, which has caused her to have behavioral problems.

Turner is charged with second degree battery for assaulting a Lawrence County sheriff's deputy, according to the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department.

She is also facing charges of third degree domestic battery and the unauthorized use of a vehicle. Police say the three charges stem from an incident involving a family member.

Third Judicial District prosecuting attorney Henry Boyce said the charges are subject to dismissal pending "some sort of suitable plan" that allows for Turner to learn social adaptation skills and transition into adulthood, rather than serving jail time.

"It's a special circumstance," Boyce said. "My office realizes that the penalties for criminal charges are not a solution to her situation."

Hyde has agreed to act as Turner's guardian.

Turner said living with Hyde has been like "Christmas everyday."

"I get new clothes. I get new shoes. I get new toys, and she's cool. She's nice."

Hyde plans to find the resources to help her live as an independent adult, something Turner wants.

"She's better at a lot of things than I am. Her organizational skills are impeccable. "I told her you were on your way, and she immediately ran around like I would, like a chicken with my head cut off, just tidying up and things of that sort."

"I want to build my own house, build a big house, and no one can kick me out ever again," Turner said.

Hyde has set up a benefit account for Turner at Liberty Bank of Arkansas.

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