Restaurant server credited with saving 11-year-old from abusive home: ‘It was torture’

ORLANDO, FL – Police say that an 11-year-old boy has been removed from an allegedly abusive home, with both his mother and stepfather having been arrested in connection with the investigation. 

But police are affording the credit mostly to one woman, who is a server at a restaurant that saw something wasn’t right and acted both quickly and intuitively

Flaviane Carvalho acts as both a manager and server at Mrs. Potato Restaurant on South Kirkman Road in Orlando. And on the evening of January 1st, she saw a table of four – two adults and two children – where the 11-year-old boy hadn’t been ordered any food. 

But she noticed more than just no food having been ordered for the child. 

The child was adorning glasses, a face-covering and a hoodie. But from what Carvalho, behind those glasses, mask and hoodie were some visible bruises. 

Carvalho decided to flash a note to the young boy, with the adults seated at the table unaware, that read: 

“Are you okay?”

Reportedly, the child nodded ‘yes’ to said inquiry. But Carvalho couldn’t help but notice the child happened to also look underweight in concurrence with a all eating at the table besides him. 

So, she decided to discretely flash one more note to him, that read: 

“Do you need help?”

The child nodded ‘yes’ to that second note. That’s when Carvalho called the Orlando Police Department to detail her concerns regarding the child hosting a myriad of bruises that were visible on his face. 

When police responded, the 11-year-old boy initially claimed that the bruises on his face were a result of him falling out of bed. As for the bruises along his arms, the child said he received those while “wrestling” with his stepfather. 

But after police brought the child to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to be checked out, OPD Detective Erin Lawler said that’s when investigators realized that the injuries the child sustained were something more than just accidents or even “abuse”:

“‘Abuse,’ I say lightly. It was torture.”

The 11-year-old boy had difficulty having the sleeves rolled up on his shirt when being examined, simply due to the pain from the bruising. He was also said to have bruising covering his eyelids and earlobes – and was at least 20 pounds underweight. 

Investigators were then told by the boy some of what was going on in his home. 

The child was allegedly strung up, upside down, by his feet. According to officials, the victim claimed he would be beaten with brooms, closed fists and even a back scratcher. 

Detective Lawler said that withholding of food and strenuous exercise as a punishment was doled out at times, and would sometimes be punished if he faltered in form of his demanded exercises used as punishments.

According to officials, the child proclaimed that the abuse started sometime around Christmas in 2020, with the child telling authorities  that “Santa” had suggested he be punished and that he started getting handcuffed to furniture and forced to free himself.

Investigators believe that this level alleged abuse was ongoing much longer than merely a couple weeks due to the severe injuries. 

On January 1st, 34-year-old Timothy Wilson II – the child’s stepfather – was arrested under charges of child abuse and neglect.

As for the child’s mother, 31-year-old Kristen Swann, she wasn’t arrested until January 6th. Police say Swann had allegedly knew about the abuse but failed to seek medical attention, and was thus charged with child neglect.

Detective Lawler said that the victim’s 4-year-old sister appeared to not have suffered any abuse, but both the boy and his sister were removed from the home by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

OPD Chief Orlando Rolón said that had this child not been saved, he likely would’ve died one day from the abuse: 

“That child was destined to be killed. That’s how severe the injuries were. That’s how horrific the recollection of the abuse the child shared with us was.”

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In other cases involving abused children, a man in Colorado managed to land 624 years in prison for a series of crimes against children that reportedly spanned decades. 

Here’s that previous report from December. 

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COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – A man who was found guilty of having sexually abused numerous boys in his neighborhood and extended family for over 20 years has been sentenced to 624 years in prison

According to an announcement on December 20th by the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, 69-year-old Joseph Lee Davis was administered said sentence after having been convicted of 15 different counts that included sexual assault on a child in a position of trust – pattern of abuse, enticement of a child, and sexual exploitation of children.

The statement released by the DA’s office noted: 

“Over the course of more than 20 years, the defendant groomed, manipulated, threatened, and molested children from his neighborhood and extended family.”

“This dangerous pedophile tormented and destroyed the lives of his victims and the community while operating in the shadows to avoid the notice of law enforcement.”

Davis was first arrested back in December of 2018 after detectives with the Colorado Springs Police Department had found evidence of Davis’ abuse and began digging deeper to see if there were any other possible victims. 

What detectives found was a pattern of criminally abusive behavior spanning decades, which included the production of child pornography and abusing children. 

Joseph Lee Davis mugshot
Joseph Lee Davis – Colorado Springs Police Department

When working the case, police had even realized that they’d interviewed one of his victims as early as May of 2010. The 2010 victim had informed the CSPD at the time that a man – later found to be Davis – had forced him to perform oral sex and pose nude for photographs. 

That victim had told police at the time that Davis had then showed him other images of children who’d posed nude for photographs that were stored on some disc drives on Davis’ nightstand. 

During the December 2018 raid of Davis’ home, police did report finding illegal materials of that caliber during the execution of the search warrant. 

Deputy District Attorney with the 4th Judicial Branch Stephanie Redfield spoke about some of the items seized during the search warrant – which included images of young boys displayed all throughout his house:

“He had their pictures up everywhere boys that were from a decade or more ago he had them up on the walls laminated…in various stages of undress, none of them were sexually exploited that he posted on the walls around the house but they certainly would give anyone who was in there looking at them pause because they were not of family.”

Among some of the other items found were journals that Davis kept, where he wrote about his disturbing exploits, according to Redfield:

“He wrote very graphically in his journals and he would write about how they were getting too old and he would cut them loose at a certain age.”

Another interesting aspect related to this case is that Davis’ stepson, Charles Portis, was arrested in February of 2019 for sexual assault on a child. Portis had accepted a plea deal in November of 2019 and was sentenced to six years in prison for the offense. 

District Attorney Redfield commented on the recent sentencing of Davis, noting that he’ll never have an opportunity to hurt another minor: 

“He will never be able to get out in the light of day and harm another child.”

While the sentence is considered a win for the community, Deputy District Attorney Kelson Castain said that authorities may never truly learn of exactly how many people Davis harmed during his crimes: 

“I don’t think we will ever get to know how many victims or people this man has tormented or affected throughout his life.”

Davis had been previously convicted of crimes against children, with one case dating back to 1974 where he was charged with sexual assault on a child, which was plead down to a misdemeanor and he only served 3 years for that offense. 

Davis was also charged in 1980 for another sexual offense against a child. Considering the history with Davis, the jury returned a guilty verdict within a couple hours during his latest trial. 

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Author: Gregory Hoyt

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