Orlando, Florida — The restaurant manager here noticed that a boy from a family of four sitting on New Year’s Day suffered bruising on his face and arms. Police said the man at the table did not let the boy order food.
Flavaine Carvalho has decided to intervene.
She wrote a note saying “Do you need help? OK” and lifted it so that the boy could see it but his parents couldn’t. He nodded.
“A few minutes later, I wrote another sign asking him if he needed help, and this was when he nodded,” Carvalho said at a press conference Thursday.
WKMG-TV, an affiliate of CBS Orlando, reports that Carvalho called Rafaela Cabede, owner of Mrs. Potato restaurant, and Carvalho agreed to call the police.
According to officials, the boy was found to be a victim of serious child abuse.
“You saved the boy’s life,” Cabede told Carvalho. “Thinking that someone can do it to a child brings us tears.”
The 11-year-old told a detective in Orlando that he wrapped a ratchet strap around his ankle and neck and hung it upside down from the door. He also said he was beaten with a wooden broom, handcuffed, and tied to a large moving trolley.
“Abuse, I lightly say: it was torture,” said detective Erin Laura. “As I said, this kid experienced just torture. There is no reason to justify it in any area.”
Police also said the boy was unable to eat regularly as a form of punishment.
The child’s stepfather, Timothy Wilson II, was arrested on one charge of three child abuses. Investigators said they did not arrest their parents at the restaurant because there was not enough evidence at the time.
A few days later, authorities arrested both Wilson and Kristen Swan. Wilson was arrested on multiple charges of exacerbated child abuse and child neglect.
Police said the boy’s mother had admitted to knowing about the abuse. She was arrested for two counts of child negligence.
“It didn’t seem like it was the only incident because he had different stages of all kinds of bruises,” Laura added. “It was continuous ill-treatment and torture.”
Orlando police said they regularly encourage people who see something to say something.
“When a woman kept that advice in mind, she saved the boy from a dangerous abuse,” OPD said in a news release. “By saying something when I saw something, Carvalho took the courage and care for a child I had never met. Someone like Carvalho lived and worked in our community. I’m proud to be there. “
Another child was with his family on New Year’s Day, but officials said she showed no signs of abuse or malnutrition.
Investigators said both children had been taken out of the house and said to be “very well and now very happy.”
Police said a trust account had been created to assist the children involved in the abuse case.
“It was torture,” police say, alert restaurant managers are using hidden signs to rescue the abused boy.
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