JUPITER, Fla. (WPEC) — A probable cause affidavit obtained by CBS12 News contains shocking new details in the case of a 13-year-old Jupiter teen forced to live in a small structure in his family’s garage.
The teen was in the care of his adopted parents, Tracy and Timothy Ferriter, both 46 years old.
Tracy was a teacher at All Saints Catholic School in Jupiter from March of 2014 until June of 2017.
According to documents, Tracy reported her son missing on Jan. 28th. Officers came to her home to look for clues as to his whereabouts on January 30th.
When they searched the home, they found a structure with a bucket, a mattress, and a ring camera. The 8x8 structure had a doorknob and deadbolt that locked only from the outside, and a light-switch on the outside.
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They say Tracy was unclear about what the structure was used for - first telling police it was used as an office, then a storage room, and finally that it was a room sometimes utilized by all of her children.
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When investigators located the boy at Independence Middle School one day later, they were able to talk to him about what was going on at home.
The teen told investigators that he was subjected to physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the Ferriters, and ran away because he ‘felt like no one loves him.’
He said he was kept inside that structure sometimes for 18 hours at a time, forced to use the bathroom in a bucket and clean it out himself.
The teen detailed physical abuse including spanking, and being hit with a belt and jumprope. He said he was also spit on on multiple different occasions.
The child even pleaded with police to take him to prison because he didn’t want to go home.
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His siblings later confirmed many of the same details, and after executing a search warrant for the ring camera inside the structure, investigators were able to corroborate much of his story with thousands of videos showing abuse on the inside of the structure.
The Ferriters were arrested for aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment. A judge set their bond at $50,000 each on Wednesday and ordered them to have no contact with any of their four children unless authorized by DCF.
An attorney for the Ferriters suggested to the judge that the teen has behavioral disorders - something which Tracy also told investigators, suggesting that might be a reason the teen was locked up.
“Law enforcement has an obligation to conduct investigations in an objective and thorough manner. I made information known to the police in order to assist them in the factfinding process, including evidence from Arizona where this family had lived up until a month ago. This critical evidence was ignored." said Nellie L. King, the Ferriters attorney. "In the criminal legal system, the temptation for a community to rush to judge is tempered by the judicial process, a presumption of innocence, and the facts. What Tim and Tracy have lived through the past many years will therefore be presented in court.”
CBS12 News reached out to Jupiter Police to see where the teen is now, but a spokesperson could only confirm that he is now in a safe location.