It was the first day of 2021 when Flaviane Carvalho noticed something strange about the customers who had come to the restaurant where she worked. They seemed to be a family, only the older boy was kept away from his parents and younger brother, he was full of bruises and scratches, he had not been ordered anything to eat or even drink. The child seemed to need help, and the rescue came thanks to a discreet note.
It was the ingenious – and simple – idea that the employee of the restaurant “Mrs. Potato ”from Orlando, Florida. Flaviane Carvalho stood behind the boy’s parents and held in her hand a note that only the child could see and on which she had written, “Are you OK?” When the boy nodded, she wrote a second note asking, “Do you need help?” After the child nodded, Carvalho called his boss and then called 911, CNN reports.
Police arrived and questioned the 11-year-old child. His stepfather, Timothy Lee Wilson, was arrested on the spot at the restaurant, and the boy’s mother, Kristen Swann, was arrested a few days later.
What the police discovered after their parents were arrested
The investigation revealed that the boy was kept away from his family in a hotel room used for storage. He was regularly starved, not even given water, and was subjected to military-type exercises and other abuses. Police found several objects used as tools to hit the child.
The boy was taken to hospital, where he was found to be 9 kilograms below normal weight for his age. He had bruises all over his body, in various stages of healing.
Investigators found that the boy had been tortured and punished “with malicious intent.” Prosecutors said the boy was hung upside down on a door, hung by his neck and legs, and was tied to a cargo cart.
Saved from certain death
“It simply came to our notice then. I’m a mother and seeing what this 11-year-old had to endure … it’s an emotional shock, “said Erin Lawler, an Orlando police officer who handled the case. “If Mrs. Carvalho hadn’t reacted when she saw him, this little boy probably wouldn’t have been with us for a long time,” the policewoman added.
The restaurant employee says that God probably wanted to save him through it. “We need to pay attention to people’s needs and take a step forward to do something to change their situation,” she said.
Parents consider themselves innocent
As for the couple’s young child, aged 4, no abuse was found in his case, but he was entrusted to social services anyway.
A jury found Timothy Lee Wilson, the tortured boy’s stepfather, guilty of multiple child abuse: abduction, aggravated child abuse, neglect of a minor. The sentence is due to be handed down on August 19. However, the 36-year-old defendant is found not guilty.
As for the boy’s natural mother, she also faces several allegations of serious abuse, plus failure to report the abuse to her child. She also pleaded not guilty.
Editor: Luana Pavaluca
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