A 13-year old was physically abused by their adopted parents and forced to live in a small garage structure for years, police in Florida allege.
The Jupiter Police Department said on February 8 that Tracy and Timothy Ferriter had been arrested on charges of aggravated child abuse.
Police discovered that an 8 feet by 8 feet structure within the garage of the couple’s home in the Egret Landing neighborhood of Jupiter was used to imprison the youth.
The alleged abuse came to light after police visited the house late last month to investigate a report that the child had run away from home, the Jupiter Police Department said in a press release, posted on Facebook. The child was not named and police did not say if it was a boy or a girl.
“On January 30, 2022, detectives responded to a residence in the Egret Landing community regarding a follow-up to a 13-year-old missing runaway investigation,” the press release said.
“Detectives made contact with the mother, Tracy Ferriter, at the residence who allowed one detective into the home.
“While the detective was in the residence, he noticed an 8×8 structure within the garage that was described by the mother as a small office.”
The detective noticed that the structure had a doorknob and deadbolt on the outside as well as a light switch only on the exterior.
Inside was a mattress, a camera, and a bucket. Tracy Ferriter again claimed it was used as an office or storage space.
The 13-year-old turned up a day later at school, where detectives interviewed the child.
“As the ongoing investigation continued and numerous interviews (were) conducted, it was determined the 13-year-old has been physically abused and forcibly confined to live within the garage structure by his adopted parents since at least 2017,” the press release said.
“The juvenile was able to attend school; however, was confined to the structure during the remainder of the day.
“Meals were brought to the child and the bucket was provided for bathroom use.”
Tracy and Timothy Ferriter were arrested and taken to the Palm Beach County Jail.
Three other children living in the home were taken away by Child Protective Services.
Newsweek has contacted the Jupiter Police Department for comment.
The Palm Beach Post quoted an attorney representing the couple, Nellie King, as saying the police had ignored “critical evidence” from Arizona, where she said the family had lived until a month ago.
“In the criminal legal system, the temptation for a community to rush to judge is tempered by the judicial process, a presumption of innocence, and the facts,” she said in a statement to the newspaper. “What Tim and Tracy have lived through the past many years will therefore be presented in court.”
Earlier this week Newsweek reported on a similar alleged incident where a Texas couple now faces child endangerment charges.
Eric Jesus Martinez, 30, and Valerie Diaz, 34, were arrested after police were called to their San Antonio home for a welfare check on December 21.
Martinez and Diaz allegedly tied up their three children, aged 5, 6 and 11, with zip ties and kept them in a cabinet for up to several days at a time.
Nearly 700,000 American children faced some sort of abuse or neglect each year, the National Children’s Alliance reported. The NCA also found that younger children were more vulnerable to abuse and neglect and 78 percent of abused children were victimized by a parent.