A restaurant manager’s secret note helped rescue a young boy from his abusive step-dad who has since been jailed for life.
Flavaine Carvalho, from Florida, US, noticed the 11-year-old boy had been denied food when he and his family visited the Mrs Potato Restaurant where she worked.
She was serving their table and saw the boy appeared to have bruises on his body and was forced to sit away from his family when they visited on New Year’s Day last year.
Concerned about this, she wrote a sign and held it up to the boy and out of sight of his family, the State Attorney’s Office for Orange and Osceola Counties confirmed.
It read: “Do you need help?” and, after the boy nodded yes, she called Orlando Police, Yahoo News reports.
Had she not intervened, police fear the boy’s fate could have been very different and praised Carvalho for her quick-thinking.
“We probably would’ve been talking about a potential homicide investigation if she [Carvalho] had not intervened when she did,” Orlando Chief of Police Orlando Rolón said at the time.
The boy’s stepdad Timothy Lee Wilson, 36, was found guilty on numerous counts of false imprisonment, aggravated child abuse and child neglect.
He was slapped with several life terms on August 19 while the boy’s mum, Kristen Swann, who knew of the abuse and didn’t get the boy any medical care, was also arrested on two counts of child neglect.
Swann’s case is still pending, the New York Post reports.
It’s reported that the police investigation into the abuse found the youngster had been “tortured, maliciously punished, and deprived of food and water for days at a time”.
The State Attorney said: “A search warrant revealed that the victim was kept in a separate hotel room used for storage, away from Mr Wilson, the victim’s mother, and the younger sibling.”
It was also revealed the boy was forced to do “military-style exercises” which included him being hung upside down from a door by his neck and feet and handcuffed to a dolly cart on Christmas Day, authorities said.
A six-person jury found Wilson guilty of two counts of false imprisonment on a child under the age of 13, three counts of aggravated child abuse with a weapon, four counts of aggravated child abuse, and one count of child neglect.
After her heroics, donors raised over £50,000 for Carvalho on a GoFundMe page.
The page said: “Carvalho stood behind the boy’s parents so they wouldn’t see her, then held up the note asking him if he needed help.
“He signaled yes, prompting her to dial 911. Orlando Police interviewed the youngster, who detailed the alleged torture he’d endured.
“The outcome of this story was only possible because of her act of kindness, compassion and how fearlessly she stood up for this child.”