How a waitress’s subtle signal saved a 'tortured' child

Clay Curtis
January 16, 2021

An eagle-eyed waitress has been hailed a hero when she discreetly saved a boy who was being tortured by his parents after she noticed some odd behaviour while the family was dining out.

The rescue played out on New Year's Day in Orlando after the couple walked into a Mrs. Potato restaurant with the boy and a four-year-old girl.

The child eventually signaled yes and Carvalho called the authorities.

Flaviane Carvalho was working at the Mrs Potato restaurant in Orlando, in the USA state of Florida, on New Year's Day when she noticed the 11-year-old boy's stepfather and mother were withholding food from him. While the rest of the family got something to eat, they ordered nothing for an 11-year-old boy.

"The man told me no, everything was fine and that the boy was going to have his dinner at home that night", Carvalho recounted during the press conference.

His stepfather told Carvalho that the boy would be eating at home later, but she spotted bruises on the child's face and arms.

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The boy's stepfather Timothy Wilson II (left), 34, was first arrested on one count of third-degree child abuse.

When she held up the sign asking if he was okay, the boy shook his head no. Carvalho then made a decision to pen another sign asking "Do You Need Help?", Orlando Police said in a statement on social media.

A 911 call from the incident was released on Thursday afternoon.

"See something, say something", they wrote on Facebook.

Police said in a press conference that doctors examined the boy and found bruises on his face and arms.

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Police officers arrived at the restaurant soon after to interview the boy, who said his stepfather had been abusing him in horrific ways.

He was also significantly underweight for his age and Lawler said police learned he had food withheld from his as a form of punishment.

The detective said the parents said they would punish him by making him do planks for 30 minutes and beat him when he couldn't do it.

Police say the incident occurred at the restaurant on January 1, clickorlando.com reports.

He said that he had been tied up, hung from a door, hit with a broom and handcuffed.

"What this child had gone through, it was torture", Lawler said. Days later, authorities arrested both Wilson and Kristen Swann.

Wilson was subsequently charged with child abuse. She is charged with two counts of child neglect, court records show.

The boy and another 4-year-old child have been removed from the home and are now in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Lawler said the boy told investigators he had been abused on Christmas Day when the parents said Santa had suggested he be punished.

Anxious for the boy's safety, the waitress knew she had to do something but didn't want to risk alerting his family, in case it put him in danger.

"We truly believe that this was a holy provision, and we were very blessed that we were able to help this child", Cabede explained.

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