How a waitress’s subtle signal saved a 'tortured' child

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·2-min read

A waitress’s subtle act has saved a boy who was allegedly beaten and tortured by his stepfather.

Flaviane Carvalho was working at the Mrs Potato restaurant in Orlando, in the US state of Florida, on New Year’s Day when she noticed the 11-year-old boy’s stepfather and mother were withholding food from him.

“[It] was the first thing that got my attention,” Ms Carvalho said in a video released by the Orlando Police Department.

“I step in and ask if there was something wrong with the order because the food for the boy was missing, and then a man told me no, that everything was OK and the boy was OK and he was going to have his dinner at night at home.

A note written for a tortured boy asks him if he needs help.
The note Flaviane Carvalho wrote to the boy. Source: Orlando Police Department

“This was super strange to me. And when I looked to the boy I saw a really big scratch between his eyebrows.”

After noticing some other bruises on the boy’s body, a quick-thinking Ms Carvalho made a subtle sign asking the boy if he was OK.

“He could see me ... when I made the first sign I asked him if he was okay, and he nodded yes,” she said.

“But he didn’t convince me. A couple of minutes later, I wrote another sign, asking him if he needed help. I showed him, and he nodded his head yes.”

Flaviane Carvalho speaks in a video about noticing a little boy in trouble.
Flaviane Carvalho noticed the boy had bruises and was being denied food. Source: Orlando Police Department.

Ms Carvalho then went to the back of the restaurant and called police, who arrived just minutes later.

Boy details horrific alleged abuse to police

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the boy detailed the horrific alleged abuse he suffered to police, including being tied by his ankles and neck and hung upside down from a door.

He also claimed the stepfather used a back scratcher, closed fists and a wooden broom to beat him, it was reported.

The boy said he would be punished with exercise, and forced to hold a plank for 30 minutes, and have food withheld.

The facade of the Mrs Potato restaurant in a carpark in Orlando.
The waitress helped the boy while he was dining at the Mrs Potato restaurant. Source: Google Maps

Orlando Police Department Detective Erin Lawler told reporters the boy was also severely underweight.

“Abuse, I say lightly,” she said.

“It was torture.”

The boy’s stepfather, Timothy Wilson II, was arrested on charges of child abuse and neglect while his mother, Kristen Swann, was arrested on a charge of child neglect.

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