A Florida couple was arrested after allegedly they locked their 14-year-old adopted son in a small structure in the garagewhere he was monitored with a camera and had a bucket to use as a toilet, police said.
Parents, Tracy and Timothy Ferriter, both 46, were charged with aggravated child abuse. and false imprisonment, the Jupiter Police Department announced Wednesday in a news release.
Authorities learned of the living conditions to which the boy was allegedly subjected on Jan. 30, when detectives visited the Ferriter residence in Egret Landing, after the boy was reported to have run away.
Tracy allowed a detective into the home, who found an 8-by-8-foot structure in the garage that the mother said was being used “for an office or storage space,” police said.
It had a latch and a deadbolt, “both lockable from the outside, as well as a light switch outside only,” according to authorities.
There was a camera, a mattress and a bucket in the structure, police said.
The boy was located the next day at school and interviewed by detectives.
He told officers he ran away “because I feel like no one loves me,” according to a criminal probable cause affidavit.
The boy told detectives he didn’t want to go back to his family, begged to be arrested and said he “would rather be in prison than go home,” the document says.
He said the longest time he remembers being locked in the room was from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., according to his affidavit.
The teen also told police he had a room similar to the garage structure when his family lived in Arizona.
Police also interviewed one of the boy’s brothers, who said the victim was locked in the structure when he misbehaved or was in trouble before adding “he’s in a lot of trouble.”
Police later determined that the boy “has been physically abused and forcibly confined to living inside the garage structure” since at least 2017.
He was allowed to attend school but was “forced to stay in the structure for the rest of the day,” police said.
“Meals were brought to the child and the bucket was provided to use in the bathroom,” police said in the news release.
Police obtained a search warrant to check the Ring camera in the room and found “thousands of videos” showing the boy “repeatedly locked inside his room every day.”
A video showed him locked in the room after “it was discovered that he had ‘stolen’ chocolate and cookies from the kitchen, despite being told he couldn’t have them,” according to the affidavit.
He also claims the police department received a call in December 2021 from a man who said he was contacted to build an office in the garage of the home and found the specific instructions “very strange.”
His description of the structure matched the description provided by police in the press release.
The man told police that “if anyone was inside the office, they would not be able to get out unless someone opened the door for them from outside,” according to his statement. He also said that “the entire project had to be completed in two days.”
It was unclear Thursday what authorities did after the man went to police with that information.
The couple had three other children living in the house. They have been removed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, police said.
The investigation is ongoing.
The Ferriters appeared in court on Wednesday, where They were ordered to be held on $50,000 bond. and have no contact with their children unless given permission by the state Department of Children and Families, reported WPTV, an NBC affiliate from West Palm Beach, Florida.
They were later released on bail, according to the news station.
The couple’s attorney, Nellie King, told NBC News Thursday that she presented “critical evidence” in the case to police that was “ignored.”
“The police have an obligation to conduct investigations objectively and thoroughly. I gave information to the police to help them in the fact-finding process, including evidence from Arizona, where this family had lived up to a month ago. This critical evidence was ignored,” he said.
“In the criminal legal system, the temptation for a community to rush to judge is tempered by the judicial process, the presumption of innocence and the facts,” he added. “So what Tim and Tracy have been through over the last few years will be brought up in court.”
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