Parents Allegedly Locked Teen Son in Garage 'Office'

Florida couple accused of confining 14-year-old to 8-by-8 structure most of the time
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2022 12:58 PM CST
Cops: Parents Locked Teen Son in 8-by-8 Structure
Timothy and Tracy Ferriter.   (Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – A disturbing case of alleged child abuse has emerged out of Florida, where a couple is accused of making their 14-year-old son spend most of his time in a locked 8-by-8 "office" in their garage. Timothy and Tracy Ferriter, both 46, of Jupiter face felony charges of aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment. Both were released on $50,000 bonds, reports WPBF. Their four children—including the adopted 14-year-old who allegedly suffered the brunt of the abuse—are in the custody of child services, per CBS12.

  • Locked in: On Jan. 30, police went to the family home after Tracy Ferriter reported that her son had run away. In the garage, they found an 8-by-8 structure, with a small box spring and mattress, a security camera, and an orange bucket instead of a bathroom, per the Washington Post. The structure had a lock, but only on the outside, meaning the person inside could not exit.

  • First call: About a month before the police visit, a handyman went to police because the Ferriters asked him to build just such a structure, and it struck him as "very strange," according to a police report filed about his visit. Officers did not visit the home at that time.
  • Allegations: When police located the missing teen on school property on Jan. 31, he said his parents forced him to spend most of his time in the structure when he wasn't at school. He said he was brought leftovers instead of being allowed to eat with the family, was forced to clean his own waste from the bucket, and was physically punished in a "really aggressive" manner, per WPBF. He told police he ran away because "I feel like no one loves me."
  • Parents: An attorney for the couple says the police report does not provide a complete picture. Defense attorney Nellie King says the teen has reactive attachment disorder, meaning he failed to bond with his caretakers, per People. “In the criminal legal system, the temptation for a community to rush to judge is tempered by the judicial process, a presumption of innocence, and the facts,” she tells the Post. “What Tim and Tracy have lived through the past many years will therefore be presented in court.” Also likely to be presented in court: Footage from the security camera that police say supports the boy's claims.
(Read more Florida stories.)

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