A Florida waitress who noticed bruises on an 11-year-old boy flashed him a handwritten note asking him if he needed help, and when he nodded yes, she called the police, authorities said.
Orlando police credited Flaviane Carvalho, a waitress at Mrs. Potato Restaurant, with coming to the boy’s aid on New Year’s Eve when the child’s parents weren’t looking.
Police took the boy to a hospital where doctors found bruises on his face, earlobes and arms. He also was 20 pounds (9 kilograms) underweight, Detective Erin Lawler told local media.
“‘Abuse,’ I say lightly,” Lawler said Thursday at a news conference. “It was torture.”
The boy told detectives that he had been tied by his ankles and neck and hung upside down from a door in his home. He also told detectives that his stepfather beat him with a wooden broom, a back scratcher and closed fists, and that he’d been handcuffed and tied to a large moving dolly, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The boy’s 34-year-old stepfather was arrested on charges of child abuse and neglect on the night the waitress called police, according to an arrest affidavit.
The child’s 31-year-old mother, who was also at the restaurant, was arrested a week later on a child neglect charge.
An online court docket showed no attorneys listed for either the stepfather or mother.