In Florida, Couple Arrested Who Locked their Adopted Son in the Garage for 5 Years

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A couple living in Palm Beach County (southeast Florida, USA) was arrested by police for confining their 13-year-old adopted son for about 5 years in a tiny room inside the garage of the property, local media reported on Wednesday. Tracy and Timothy Ferriter, 46, were arrested and charged with the crime of “aggravated child abuse” for having the child confined in a chamber built inside the family garage.

The discovery came on January 30 after a police investigation following a call in which they warned of the disappearance of a minor, although it is not clear who reported the disappearance or how long he was missing.A police officer went to the couple’s home that day and, while talking to the boy’s mother, noticed the existence of a structure inside the garage that the woman described as a small office.

According to a police report obtained by CBS-12, detectives arrived at the Ferriters’ home after Tracy reported her teen missing. When they arrived, police said, they noticed an 8-by-8-foot structure inside the garage that Tracy allegedly described as a small office. Authorities noted that the structure had a bolt that closed from the outside and that the light switch was only on the outside of the structure, the police report alleges. Inside the structure were a mattress, a sheet, some books, and other personal belongings.

When the teen reappeared at school the next day, he told officers his parents locked him in the garage structure for up to 18 hours, WPTV reported. When an officer asked the teen why he escaped, he allegedly told them, “Because I feel like no one loves me.”

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The teen allegedly pleaded with officers to arrest him, telling them he would “rather be in prison than be back home,” the report alleges. Detectives now allege that the Ferriter’s have been physically abusing and forcibly confining the teen and living in the garage structure since 2017. The teen was allowed to attend school, authorities allege, but was locked up for the rest of the day while at home. They brought him food and provided him with a bucket instead of a bath.

According to court documents, a search warrant at the home revealed thousands of videos from a Ring camera showing the teen locked inside the structure. After the Ferriter’s were taken to jail, Child Protective Services took away three other children who lived in the home, CBS-12 said.

The Ferriter’s appeared in court Wednesday morning. According to WPTV, his defense attorney, Nellie King, argued that the boy, who had been adopted, suffered from reactive attachment disorder. King said the disorder was a condition in which a child fails to form a healthy emotional bond with his guardians.A judge set the Ferriters’ bail at $50,000 each and ordered them not to have contact with their children unless authorized by the Florida Department of Children and Families. They have pleaded not guilty.

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