Shortly before midnight on January 1, a family was seated at the Mrs. Potato Restaurant in Orlando, Florida at a table being worked by Flavaine Carvalho. She had not been schedule to work that night, but came in to cover the shift for a co-worker that had called out.
While three of the people at the table, a pair of adults and another child, all ordered food, Carvalho took note of the boy who appeared to be underweight, wearing glasses, a mask, and a hoodie. Despite the coverings, she could see bruises.
Seated at the only table in the restaurant that allowed her to stand behind the parents without raising suspicion, she flashed a handwritten sign to the boy asking, "Are you OK?"
Initially the boy nodded. A short time later, she returned with a second note, "Do you need help?"
Once again the boy nodded.
A call was placed to the police, the audio of which was released by the Orlando Sentinel. Unsure of what to do, Carvalho told the dispatcher about the events that had transpired.
Soon, officers arrived at the restaurant and spoke with both the boy and his parents.
The boy initially tried to explain his bruising away as "accidents" such as falling out of bed, and "wrestling" with his step-father.
He was transported to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children where the extent of his injuries was revealed.
Bruises covered the side of his face and discolored both eyelids and earlobes. Bruising on his arm was to the point that it was painful to roll up his sleeve. Additionally, he was 20 pounds underweight.
Orlando Police Department detective Erin Lawler explained the situation as, "'Abuse,' I say lightly. It was torture."
During a press conference, Orlando Police Department Chief Orlando Rolón said matter-of-factly, "That child was destined to be killed. That's how severe the injuries were. That's how horific the recollection of the abuse the child shared with us was."
Had it not been for Carvalho Rolón said, "We probably would've been talking about a potential homicide investigation if she had not intervened when she did."
The 11-year-old boy told that the abuse began around Christmas, though investigators suspect that it had been going on for longer than that based on his injuries.
He told them that he had been restrained with ratchet straps by his ankles and neck and suspended upside down in a doorway and that his father beat him with a wooden brook, a back scratcher, and closed fists. He also recounted being handcuffed and tied to a large moving dolly.
In addition to being denied food on a regular basis, he was forced to exercise excessively as punishment including holding a plank for 30 minutes for which he was additionally beaten for failing to do so.
At the restaurant that night, the boy's step-father, 34-year-old Timothy Wilson II was arrested on charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect.
On January 6, after admitting to knowing of the abuse and failing to obtain medical care for her son, his mother, 31-year-old Kristen Swann was also arrested on a charge of child neglect.
The boy and his 4-year-old sister, who did not appear to have been abused, are both in the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families at this time.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that anyone wishing to support the children can do so by mailing donations to:
Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. Trust Account
c/o The Northern Trust Company
Attn: Michael Villasana, for the children of Wilson/Swann
600 Brickell Avenue, Suite 2400
Miami, Florida 33131