ORLANDO, Fla. – An observant woman at an Orlando restaurant helped rescue a boy who police say was the victim of severe child abuse, including being suspended upside down from a door, by secretly holding a sign that only the child could read.
Orlando police said Flavaine Carvalho was working as a server New Year’s Day at Mrs. Potato restaurant on South Kirkman Road when a man and the 11-year-old boy sat down at a table. According to police, the man did not allow the boy to order any food, and Carvalho noticed the child had bruises on his face and arms.
Carvalho wrote a note that said, “Do you need help? OK” and held it up to the boy while standing behind the man so he couldn’t see it, police said.
After three attempts, the boy signaled yes, and Carvalho called police, according to authorities.
In an interview with Orlando police detectives, the boy recounted incidents of mistreatment, saying he had ratchet straps tied around his ankles and neck and was hung upside down from a door, officials said. According to police, the boy also said he had been struck with a wooden broom and handcuffed and tied to a large moving dolly.
The boy also said he didn’t get to eat on a regular basis as a form of punishment, according to police.
The man was arrested on one count of third-degree child abuse. Days later, the man was arrested again on multiple counts of aggravated child abuse and child neglect.
Police said the boy’s mother admitted to knowing about the abuse. She was arrested Jan. 6 on two counts of child neglect.
The Orlando Police Department said it regularly encourages people who see something to say something.
“When one woman took that advice to heart, she rescued a boy from some dangerous abuse,” OPD said in a news release. “By saying something when she saw something, Ms. Carvalho displayed courage and care for a child she had never even met before, and we’re proud someone like Ms. Carvalho lives and works in our community.”