Citrus County Sheriff’s Office investigators said Tuesday a runaway child case took a turn for the macabre, after the missing 12-year-old, told them he was severely abused.
“We are just so thankful that this boy trusted us enough to come forward about what was going on inside his home,” Captain Dave DeCarlo from the Criminal Investigation Division said. “This is one of the worst cases of child abuse detectives have seen in a while.”
According to the arrest affidavit, the 12-year-old boy was beaten by Denise Hallowell.
The report states, “The victim had disclosed to deputies that the defendant locks him in his room and has nailed the windows shut. The victim also disclosed that the defendant often slaps, punches and kicks him in the groin during discipline… The victim state that when lock in his room he is given a bucket to urinate in, which he has urinated in numbers times in similar circumstances.”
Neighbors ABC Action News spoke to said two children live at the home. The 12-year-old and another teenage boy. On numerous occasions they said the two played in the neighborhood and they never noticed any problems.
“I know about those kids, she is a good mother she cares, I am shocked,” Clark Stillwell said. “I don't have any personal knowledge of what went on, but those boys are well behaved it is not consistent with what I have seen .”
Investigators said once the boy was located Saturday night after he ran away. He began to tell them about all of the abuse in the home. The affidavit shows the other teenager in the home, witnessed the abuse and would hold the alleged victim down as Hallowell beat him.
After running forensic tests on the 12-year-old the affidavit states “the victim has 3 inch bruising on his hips and interior arm as a result of being hit. The victim also has scratches on his face and neck from the defendant slapping the victim across the face.
Investigators said Hallowell is a contracted out as a teacher for Citrus County Schools in their Renaissance Center. A building where Hallowell is responsible for discipline for children with behavioral problems.
Both children were taken into the custody of the state.