A 54-year-old teacher is behind bars after being charged with aggravated child abuse.
Writing on their Facebook page Citrus County Sheriff’s Office said detectives found out Denise Hallowell “had a dark secret.”
“It all began as a runaway case,” authorities posted.
“But as detectives started learning more and more about the 12-year-old boy they were looking for – things started to unravel.”
It is understood Ms Hallowell called police to notify them a 12-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was missing.
Once detectives found the boy, he started to tell them details of his home life and the alleged abuse Hallowell acted out on him.
“He told detectives that he was locked in a bedroom most of the time while at home with nothing more than a air mattress and bucket for a toilet," police wrote.
“He was without food or water for days at a time and only allowed to come out of his room to do chores, which Hallowell made him do naked."
“He was allegedly repeatedly beaten by Hallowell, even in the groin area. His windows of his room were nailed shut and and his door was locked from the outside so that he could not escape.”
Captain Dave DeCarlo from the Criminal Investigation Division said this is one of the worst cases of child abuse his team of detectives has seen in a while.
“What looked like a typical runaway case - turned into a horrible child abuse case. We are just so thankful that this boy trusted us enough to come forward about what was going on inside his home.”
Hallowell is charged with child abuse without causing great bodily harm and aggravated child abuse – without bond. The child has been removed from the home and is being cared for.
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