Tennessee man charged in torture case recently met teen, says mother
Daniel Tyler Cantrell
Daniel Tyler Cantrell recently moved to New Hampshire looking for work, according to his mother, who said jobs are scarce in his Tennessee hometown and her son wanted to “better himself.”
Instead, the police say he spent the last several weeks living in a Penacook townhouse where he helped two women torture their 18-year-old relative.
Of the three people charged in the case since Wednesday, 20-year-old Cantrell is the only one not related to the man officials say was victimized. He’s also the one facing the most charges and accused of the more shocking crimes: pressing a cigarette against the teenager’s neck, forcing him to eat feces and burning his nipples with a lighter.
The teen’s mother, 52-year-old Christine Gelineau and his cousin, 29-year-old Amy Nason, have also been charged.
Cantrell’s mother, Sabrina Garrett, said yesterday that he’s only known those women and the teenager for a few months. Garrett said they all met in Sparta, Tenn., where Nason had come to make contact with the father of one of her children, who owed her child support.
Garrett said Nason brought her aunt, her cousin and another relative on that trip.
“He said he couldn’t find any good jobs,” Garrett said of her son, who graduated from Tennessee’s White County High School in 2011. “He was working a little bit here but wanting something better and (Nason) convinced him that, you know, there were jobs like everywhere, and he could get a job overnight there.”
The mother isn’t exactly sure when the group arrived in New Hampshire but said they took a brief trip to Florida first. A Concord prosecutor said at Cantrell’s arraignment Thursday that he moved into the family’s Island Shore Estates home in late February or early March.
The charges cover most of the time since then.
The police say Cantrell broke the teenager’s ankle sometime between March 10 and April 14. The bulk of the charges – which include accusations Gelineau burnt her son’s penis and forced him to eat worms – date from April 10 to 14. The police said Nason pressured him to ingest urine, feces and dish soap to avoid being abused by Cantrell and Gelineau between April 1 and April 17.
The police said a 12-year-old girl who is friends with Nason’s daughter spent time in the home the weekend of April 13 to 14, was horrified with what she saw and told her parents, who notified the Division for Children, Youth and Families.
Garrett, who hasn’t spoken to her son since he was arrested, questioned why the police are hanging the charges on the word of a 12-year-old girl.
The prosecutor, though, said Cantrell and Gelineau also described what they did to the teenager with “very little emotion.”
At his hearing Thursday, Cantrell began to acknowledge some wrongdoing.
“I’m not saying what I’ve done was right. It was wrong but . . .” he said, before a judge stopped him.
Regardless, Garrett said she doesn’t believe her son did what he’s accused of and thinks he was intimidated by the police.
“Tyler is a very sensitive person, very caring person,” she said. “And I would think that if he had law enforcement and everybody else tripping him up and him getting confused and not knowing what to do, anyone that gets in a situation like that is so confused they don’t know what to do. So if he did . . . say ‘I did this or this,’ I think it was under confusion and not knowing what to do.”
One of Garrett’s close friends, Sandra Hutson, echoed the mother’s sentiments, saying Cantrell has often helped her with her children and grandchildren when she has been sick and that she’s never seen him act out.
“No one is perfect. Everybody makes mistakes in their life,” Garrett said. “But I’ve always taught my son to have respect for people and to never, never hurt anyone.”
But Cantrell’s uncle said last week that he wasn’t shocked his nephew was in trouble with the police. The nature of the allegations, he said, did surprise him because Cantrell has never been arrested for violent crimes.
“He’s fought kids before, people his own age,” William Cantrell said. “But as far as torturing someone? I really never thought he’d do that.”
The uncle, who lives in Sparta and said his nephew lived with him for several months a few years back, said he didn’t even know Cantrell had left town.
“I’m trying to wrap my head around why the hell he was in New Hampshire,” he said.
The neighbors who live on either side of the family’s Modena Drive townhouse in Penacook say they never heard screams or yelling coming through the walls. What the police believe happened there, they said, disturbs them.
The neighborhood of light blue, two-story homes clustered six to 12 in a row is a place where people stay for a while. Many have lived there for a decade or longer.
When Gelineau and the rest of her family moved in a few months ago, it made Andrew Jones and his fiancee nervous, he said last week. The new neighbors weren’t rude, he said, but they kept to themselves and didn’t return smiles when his fiancee walked by on the way to her car, Jones said.
Other neighbors described Gelineau, Nason, Cantrell and the teenager as quiet but normal.
“My kids play here all the time,” one man said, pointing to the house. “I couldn’t tell you how many times they’ve sat in front of that front door right there and played with chalk on the sidewalk.”
The police don’t know how long the family has lived in Concord. Nason listed the Modena Drive home on court documents in February, when she was sentenced on five counts of cruelty to animals. According to an affidavit in the case, the landlord at a Lee apartment she had been evicted from found she had left behind 11 animals; some were deceased and none of them had access to water.
Gelineau has told the police she is originally from Haverhill, Mass., but officials say that hasn’t been confirmed.