A Jupiter, Florida couple who is accused of abusing and keeping their 14-year-old adopted child in a small structure may have done so because the teen had an attachment disorder.
46-year-old Tracy and Timothy Ferriter appeared in court on Wednesday where they faced charges for aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment.
A defense lawyer presented paper to the judge suggesting that the teen had reactive attachment disorder, a condition in which a child doesn’t form a healthy emotional bond with his or her caretakers which could have been the reason the teen was kept in the structure.
Authorities became aware of the situation after the teen reportedly ran away on January 28th. Tracy told authorities that the teen had behavioral problems and was having trouble at school.
Two days after the report, authorities went to the home to see if the teen had returned. When he did not, authorities asked to search the home. Officials then noticed the 8-foot by 8-foot structure that the couple kept in their garage. Authorities noted that the structure had a door, and contained a mattress with a grey sheet and pillow, a bucket, and a camera above the bed.
Investigators later located the teen at his middle school and asked about the structure in the garage. The teen then revealed that when he was not at his school, he was being kept in the structure. He also told officers that he would rather be arrested then return home where he did not feel loved or safe.
Officials found during their investigation that the teen had been locked in the room almost everyday for several hours and that the treatment had been going on since at least 2017.
Both parents were arrest for aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment. There bond was set at $50,000.
Several other children who lived in the house hold were removed by DCF. Authorities say they did not find evidence that those children were abused.