(CMR) A Florida couple has been charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment after they allegedly forced their 13-year-old adopted son to live in an 8′ by 8′ box in their garage for five years.
Tracy and Timothy Ferriter allowed the teen to attend school but kept him locked up the rest of the day while at home. They reportedly brought meals to him, and a bucket was provided for bathroom use. He was also given a mattress. The Ferriter's also installed a deadbolt and a light switch outside the box and a camera inside.
The couple was arrested after his adopted mother reported her son missing on 28 January. When investigators visited the home days later, they found the structure.
Police visited the 13-year-old at Independence Middle School, where they interviewed him and learned of his alleged living conditions, officials said. The boy allegedly told the detectives that he was locked away for up to 18 hours per day. He also said he was “slammed against a wall by his neck” and was spanked with a belt and a jump rope.
The child told investigators he ran away because he felt like no one loved him, and he did not feel safe. He pleaded with officers to arrest him, saying “he would rather be in prison than be back at home,” Fox13 reported
After the couple was arrested, the other children living in the home, including a 2-year-old, were taken into protective custody.
The couple's defense attorney suggested the teen had reactive attachment disorder, a condition where a child doesn't form a healthy emotional bond with their caretakers, and said the condition may have been a reason why the Ferriter's locked the teen up, Fox13 reported.
The Ferriter's have since taken up a $50,000 bail bond.