A man who had tortured his 11-year-old stepson, who was then saved by a waitress who surreptitiously flashed a sign at the boy reading “Do you need help?”, was given multiple life sentences by a Florida judge.
Orlando police credited Flaviane Carvalho, who manages Mrs. Potato Restaurant, with coming to the 11-year-old boy’s aid on New Year’s Eve when the child’s parents weren’t looking.
— KRIS 6 News (@KRIS6News) January 16, 2021
Timothy Lee Wilson, 36, had eaten at the Mrs. Potato Head restaurant in Orlando on New Years’ Day, 2021, with his wife, the 11-year-old boy, and his four-year-old sister, when waitress Flavaine Carvalho noticed the family did not order food for the boy and he had bruises on his face and arms.
“I could see he had a big scratch between his eyebrows,” Carvalho told a press conference last year. “A couple of minutes later, I saw a bruise on the side of his eye. So I felt there was something really wrong.”
Carvalho wrote the note, then stood behind Wilson so he couldn’t see her and held it up so the boy could see it. The boy initially indicated that he was all right, but then Carvalho wrote another note and he nodded he needed help.
Carvalho consulted her manager, who agreed she should call police. “I’m super concerned and I don’t know what to do, can you give me some advice? What I can do?” Carvalho told police. “The boy is with bruises and he’s not eating. The others are eating.”
Police arrived and took the boy to the hospital, where it was determined he was 20 lbs underweight with bruising all over his body; police discovered the boy had been tortured by being forced to perform 30-minute planks and beatings if he failed. The boy said ratchet straps had been strapped around his ankles and neck, he was once hung upside down from a door, and he had been beaten with a wooden broom and handcuffed while tied to a large moving dolly.
“What this child had gone through, it was torture,” a police spokesperson said in disbelief. “Seeing what that 11-year-old had to go through, it shocks your soul.” Special Victims Unit Detective Erin Lawler added, “If Ms. Carvalho would not have said something when she saw it, that little boy would probably not be with us, much longer.”
“She rescued a boy from some dangerous abuse,” Orlando police stated of Carvalho. “By saying something when she saw something, Ms. Carvalho displayed courage and care for a child she had never even met before, and we’re proud someone like Ms. Carvalho lives and works in our community.”
Judge Wayne C. Wooten told Wilson, “You have utterly failed, not only in the role of parent, but simply in the role of human being. For those reasons I’m going to impose the sentence that the law allows me to impose, although candidly, in many ways, I feel like it is short of what you thoroughly and richly deserve.” The boy’s biological mother Kristen Swann, will be sentenced on September 16.
Carvalho told The Daily Mail, “I feel relieved and with a sense of justice gratitude that he got what he deserved. I also feel happy because the best thing is that the boy now lives a healthy life, protected and receiving a lot of love, affection, care and respect.”
The boy has reportedly been reunited with his biological father.