ORLANDO, Fla. — A waitress in Orlando who helped an 11-year-old boy escape abuse is being hailed a hero by local law enforcement.
Flavaine Carvalho was working at the Mrs. Potato Restaurant on Jan. 1 when a family sat at a table. Everyone received food except the child, she said during a news conference, WOFL-TV reported.
Timothy Wilson II, 34, was later identified as the stepfather. He reportedly Carvalho the child would eat dinner at home. However, she noticed the boy had bruises and scratches on his face and arms and believed she needed to do something.
“I could see he had a big scratch between his eyebrows,” Carvalho said. “A couple of minutes later, I saw a bruise on the side of his eye. So I felt there was something really wrong.”
In an effort to help, she secretly penned a note to the boy that read: “Do you need help? OK.” He initially answered no, she said. Carvalho said the parents could not see the note.
After another attempt, the boy signaled yes, which led to her 911 call, Fox reported.
As a result, the boy was taken to a hospital, where doctors determined he had bruising all around his face and arms and was 20 pounds underweight for his age, authorities said. Police said the boy was subjected to other types of abuse, including being forced to do planks for 30 minutes at a time. He would be beaten if he failed, they said.
“It was ongoing abuse and torture that this child was sustaining,” Detective Erin Lawler said.
A police spokesperson said the injuries to the child were severe, WOFL-TV reported.
“In the opinion of the lead investigator, that child was destined to be killed,” he said.
Wilson was arrested on suspicion of third-degree child abuse. He was arrested a second time on Jan. 6 and charged with several counts of aggravated child abuse and neglect.
The child’s mother, Kristen Swann, 31, admitted to knowing about the reported abuse, but failed to seek medical care, authorities said. Consequently, she faces two counts of child neglect.
(Photos via Fox 35 Orlando)
The boy and couple’s 4-year-old child were removed from the home by the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The owner of Mrs. Potato praised her employee for her quick-thinking – and for saving the boy’s life.
“We are extremely proud. This has to encourage people that if you see something, say something.”
Carvalho says if she could see the boy again, she would just want to give him a big hug.