Kissimmee, Florida: On July 5, 2022, officers were called to a room at the Knights Inn Hotel where a family of eight had been staying since March following the discovery of an unresponsive child.
25-year-old Bianca Blaise reportedly told officers that her 6-year-old son had drowned while drinking from the toilet.
When officers arrived, they found the boy was not breathing and had no pulse. The boy was immediately transported to the hospital for treatment where he remained on life-support for several days before ultimately succumbing to his injuries.
"Throughout our investigation it was learned that the child was drinking from the toilet, but that had nothing to do with why he was not breathing," Osecola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez stated during a press conference on Wednesday, August 10, after murder charges were filed in what he described as "the worst child abuse case" he and his detectives had seen.
"His parents got very angry because he was drinking out of the toilet and they started to beat him. First the mother beat him. Then the father started repeatedly punching this little boy with a closed fist."
At the time, Blaise and 22-year-old Larry J. Rhodes, Jr., were arrested on charges of child neglect. They have remained in custody since that time with charges of second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse being added.
The other children, ranging in ages between 5-years and 10 months old, were all found to show signs of abuse and were described as being small for their age indicating malnourishment.
During the press conference, investigators disclosed some of the evidence of abuse, but they stated that some was just too graphic to share publicly.
"Injuries in their butt, like things that we can't show you cause it's just too traumatizing; it's traumatizing for us to have seen them and we have the experience," Detective Suzanne Clouchete stated. "Just dead skin cells from being hurt so badly, just horrible, horrible injuries on all of the children."
The surviving children have all been taken into custody by child services and have been placed together with a foster family.
According to the initial affidavit filed in the case, Blaise and Rhodes initially claimed that the injuries officers observed on their children were the result of a "physical altercation between siblings in the hotel room on July 4, 2022."
That affidavit goes on to say that Blaise denied physically punishing the children and would send them to stand in a corner as punishment. She admitted to seeing Rhodes, her boyfriend of seven years, "whoop" the children at times.
"Bianca expressed over the last two weeks, Mr. Rhodes has become upset over things that would typically be minor issues. Bianca stated this is due to the fact Mr. Rhodes recently ran out of his prescribed medications for schizophrenia in the last two weeks."
Blaise repeatedly asserted that she had now knowledge of injuries observed on her children, eventually telling investigators that "she knew she needed to leave Mr. Rhodes not only protect [redacted], but herself."
When investigators attempted to interview Rhodes, he is said to have immediately invoked his right to remain silent and asked for an attorney.
They are scheduled to appear in court for their arraignment on August 23, 2022 at 8:30 am.