What began as a teen runaway case early this year has resulted in the child’s adoptive parents being arrested in Florida.
Tracy Ferriter, 46, and Timothy Ferriter, 46, each stand accused of one count of aggravated child abuse and one count of false imprisonment for allegedly forcing their 13-year-old son to live inside of their garage for five years–beginning when he was eight.
More than that, police in Jupiter, Fla. say, the child was confined to an 8-foot-by-8-foot structure inside the garage.
According to Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA, law enforcement described the structure as having a doorknob and a deadbolt–with a light switch that could only be used from outside. Inside the small cell-like structure, police say, was a camera, a mattress and a bucket.
“The juvenile was able to attend school; however, was confined to the structure during the remainder of the day,” the JPD said in a press release obtained by local ABC affiliate WBPF. “Meals were brought to the child and the bucket was provided for bathroom use.”
The alleged victim was forced to clean the bucket himself, he reportedly told police.
The boy was also allegedly directly physically abused.
Various media in the area have reported that the investigation began when detectives followed up on a runaway investigation. That was Jan. 30, 2021. By New Year’s Eve last year, the boy was found at school and detectives began interviewing him. That’s likely when the mother’s alleged story began to fall apart. According to local CBS affiliate WPEC, Tracy Ferriter told police the structure was used as an office.
The woman’s story allegedly shifted a few times. She later told police the structure was also used as a storage room before eventually saying it was occasionally used by all of her children, police said.
“I feel like no one loves me,” the boy reportedly told police–explaining the reason for having run away from his parents.
According to police, the boy said he was spanked, hit with a belt and jumprope, and was repeatedly spit on. During his interview with law enforcement, he allegedly asked to be put in jail so he didn’t have to go back home.
The teen’s siblings allegedly confirmed many details of the abuse. Additionally, police said, investigators were able to corroborate the horror stories by simply viewing saved footage–thousands of videos–compiled by the Ring camera inside of the child’s longtime prison.
“We’ve been here for a while now since 2007,” former neighbor Ari Preisendorf told WFLA. “So, knew them…Can’t say we knew them well they kind of kept to themselves. Yeah, but it’s weird and crazy news. It’s a three-car garage. On the single car garage, there was where a room was built in there, but I never went in the house or in the garage. You could see it from the outside.”
Three additional children were removed from the residence in question after the parents were arrested–including one child that is two years old. They are now in the care Child Protective Services.
The Ferriters were arrested and detained in the Palm Beach County Jail on $25,000 bond apiece. They were ordered to have no contact with any of the children who once lived inside their house.
[images via Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]