A mother and her live-in boyfriend have been charged with enacting a “brutal pattern of child neglect, abuse and torture” on multiple children, including allegedly forcing a child to drink boiling water.
The alleged incidents were revealed during an investigation into a related abuse case. Shawn M. Stone, 32, was arrested on May 9 after allegedly beating another victim, a 5-year-old boy, with a mop handle before he reportedly “fled on a 4-wheeler.” The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida said Saturday that it was the child’s mother, Taylor B. Schaefer, 28, who called in an abuse claim.
“The case began when Schaefer called 911 to report she had a ‘gut feeling’ that her live-in boyfriend, Stone, was abusing the victim, then checked the video footage and confirmed it,” deputies wrote in a Facebook post.
But authorities said that further evidence showed that Schaefer actually already knew about Stone abusing the 5-year-old — that she witnessed it and yet repeatedly failed to step in or report it.
Evidence allegedly included video surveillance from inside the home. Investigators said they seized that footage on May 9, when they first arrested Stone. They also cite victim and witness interviews.
“Ultimately, the investigation revealed multiple recordings of the victim receiving beatings while Schaefer was present in the house, as well as several instances where he was visibly injured and limping in her presence, but received no care or medical attention,” authorities said. “On the day that Schaefer did report the abuse, video showed her mopping up the area where the victim was beaten with the mop handle.”
Footage showed the boy bound with his hands behind his back for hours at a time in the days leading up to the incident, deputies said.
In another incident, his hands were tied behind his back from 6:43 p.m. through the night and into the next day at 2:02 p.m., authorities claim.
“On another occasion, his legs, feet, arms and torso were bound for at least an hour while Stone stood over him,” deputies said.
Footage showed moments in which Stone yelled and kicked the already bruised and injured boy, according to the sheriff’s office. Schaefer would allegedly enter the picture and tell the child to stand up straight. Video also reportedly revealed that sounds of the abuse reverberated throughout the home.
That 5-year-old sustained dozens of injuries, deputies said, with doctors noting that at least 46 of those injuries were visible. They boy also reportedly suffered internal injuries, including a fractured skull.
“It was discovered that in addition to the abuse recorded on video, the victim was tied up and placed in a dog cage and often punished via deprivation of food,” deputies said.
Deputies noted two other victims, including a child who was allegedly forced to ingest scalding hot liquid.
“It was also determined that another child in the home was forced to drink boiling water, sprayed with boiling water, and beaten with several household objects,” law enforcement said. “That child also witnessed the brutal abuse inflicted on the younger victim.”
In addition to watching the younger victim’s abuse, a third child in the residence did not get proper nutrition or care for a serious medical condition, authorities said.
Stone’s charges include aggravated child abuse, neglect of a child causing great bodily harm, and failure to report child abuse, abandonment, or neglect. He is being held without bond
Schaefer was taken into custody on warrants late Sunday night in Pasco County, deputies said. Jail records there and in Volusia County do not show her in custody.
The kids were taken from the residence and placed in what deputies called a “safe environment.”
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood shared a link to a GoFundMe campaign to support the children.
“The torture these kids endured is hard to imagine,” he said. “The good news is they’re in safe hands now, and their scumbag abusers will have to answer for what they did.”
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]