DELAND, FLORIDA — A central Florida couple accused of abusing their five-year-old boy were arrested Sunday by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
The child’s mother, Taylor Schaefer, 28, was employed by an organization that “protects children and ensures they have a stable family life.” But Schaefer was arrested Sunday night after an investigation revealed “she was aware of the abuse, witnessed it and continually failed to intervene or report it,” the Sheriff’s office said in a press conference.
Shawn Stone, 32, was first taken into custody last month for one count of aggravated child abuse. But new evidence has led to 23 additional counts related to repeated abuse and neglect, according to the sheriff’s office. Schaefer, who was terminated from her job with Community Partnership for Children, has now been charged with 25 similar counts.
Evidence from the victim along with witness interviews and video surveillance footage from inside the home in DeLand points to a “brutal pattern of child neglect, abuse and torture,” the sheriff’s office stated in a report.
Stone was initially arrested when Schaefer called 911 to report a “gut feeling” that her live-in boyfriend was abusing the five-year-old and had video footage to confirm the abuse, the sheriff’s office said.
But after reviewing the footage, detectives found multiple videos where Stone beat the five-year-old while Schaefer was at home. The child was “visibly injured and limping in her presence, but received no care or medical attention,” the report stated.
Additional video footage showed the five-year-old repeatedly bound with his hands tied behind his back. In one instance, the child’s hands were bound from 6:43 pm until 2:02 pm the next day – more than 19 hours, according to the report. Another incident showed the boy with his torso, arms, legs and feet bound for at least an hour as Stone stood over him.
Stone was also seen screaming and kicking the child – who was already visibly injured – while the mother told the boy to stand up straight, according to the report. A medical assessment of the child documented 46 visible injuries, multiple internal injuries, and a fractured skull.
Investigation interviews further revealed that an older child witnessed the abuse of the younger child in the home and was “forced to drink boiling water, sprayed with boiling water, and beaten with several household objects,” according to the report. In addition, investigators determined that a third child in the home was not getting proper nutrition or care for a severe medical condition.