ORLANDO, Fla. (NEXSTAR) – A quick-thinking Florida waitress is being credited with helping a boy escape allegedly abusive parents, according to Orlando police.
The restaurant employee, identified by police as Flavaine Carvalho, said she noticed something was wrong after a family sat down inside the Mrs. Potato Restaurant in Orlando on New Year’s Day.
Carvalho said a man at the table, 34-year-old Timothy Wilson II, would not let an 11-year-old boy at the table order any food or water. Wilson was accompanied by the boy’s mother, 31-year-old Kristen Swann, and a 4-year-old girl.
“The man [Wilson] said everything was fine and that the boy was going to have his dinner at home that night,” Carvalho recalled while speaking at a police press conference.
Carvalho said as a mother she found it strange, because you “don’t deny food for a kid, especially in a restaurant.”
She said the boy was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a mask and glasses, but she managed to see a scratch on his forehead and bruising around his eyes. Carvalho decided she needed to act, so she made a sign to secretly ask him if he needed help. She stood behind the adults so they couldn’t see her sign, which read: “Do you need help?”
“When he signaled ‘Yes,’ she called us,” Orlando police said in a news release. “The stepfather & mother were arrested.”
The boy later revealed the extent of the alleged abuse, police said, that Wilson would beat him and bind his ankles and wrists before hanging him from a doorway at home.
Police said he was the victim of ongoing “torture” that left him covered in bruises and about 20 pounds underweight. The 4-year-old girl did not appear to have suffered any physical abuse.
Orlando Detective Erin Lawler said the boy had been told at Christmas that “Santa suggested he be punished and was handcuffed to a furniture dolly with his hands behind his back.”
The boy was taken to an area hospital for treatment of his injuries.
“Seeing what that 11-year-old had to go through, it shocks your soul,” Lawler said, thanking Carvahlo. “If Miss Carvalho would not have said something when she saw it, that little boy would probably not be with us much longer.”
Carvalho said the 11-year-old boy is the real hero of the story and she wishes she could give him a hug.
“I’m so proud of him because he also had the courage to say I need help,” Carvalho said.
Both children are now “doing very well” in a safe location after the Florida Department of Children and Families removed them from the home.
Police said Wilson and Swann moved from Alabama to Florida in May of 2020 and were staying in an extended-stay hotel.
The couple were both booked at the Orange County Detention Center. Wilson faces multiple charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect of a child, court records show. Swann was booked on two counts of child neglect.