Florida couple charged after locking teenage autistic son in shed
A father and his live-in girlfriend are facing felony charges after locking the man's 14-year-old autistic son in a shed.
Arcadia Police arrested 44-year-old Harry Richard Shoemaker and his 36-year-old girlfriend Jennifer Ann Hines after police say Shoemaker locked his teenage son in a 6 x 10 shed.
Officers responded to Shoemaker's home and met with an investigator from the Department of Children and Families who showed officers the shed that the teen was locked in.
An officer unlocked the shed and spoke with the teen who said he had been locked inside for a few hours.
The teen told authorities that his father and Hines would lock him in the shed regularly.
Lt. Troy Carrillo told NBC 2 News “when talking to the victim, he explained to us, he was like ‘hey did you see that bottle of water that was in there?’ We were like yeah, we [saw] it. He was like, ‘I was saving that for the weekend because I knew that was the only thing I was going to drink that entire time. And we asked him, ‘hey where do you use the restroom at? so on and so forth?’ He said if I have to urinate, my dad makes me go in the yard. If I have to do something else, he makes me walk to the closest store to use the restroom.”
Inside the shed, police found a bed, trash, tools and a bucket containing human waste.
The shed could only be locked from the outside, had no electricity or plumbing, and was hot because there was no means of climate control.
Officers say the shed had one window and a vent.
The 14-year-old told investigators he was often locked inside the shed and slept in it nightly.
The victim said Hines had the idea to lock him in the shed for extended periods of time, and eventually, his father agreed to do so.
Authorities say Shoemaker blamed his son for being locked in the shed, telling NBC 2 News “when we talked to the dad he tried to justify what he was doing as far as it was his son’s fault because it was his behaviors and stuff that made him put him in the shed.”
DCF realized the boy was being kept in the shed when they made a regular visit to the home, following a complaint by the boy’s grandmother.
The victim is now in his grandmother’s care in New York.
Shoemaker and Hines are facing felony charges of cruelty toward a child and aggravated battery on a child.
The couple are being held on $75,000 bond.