An 11-month-old boy is recovering in the hospital after being severely beaten, burned and bitten. The child's babysitter is now behind bars, charged with aggravated child abuse.
Baby Levi is resting and improving more each day inside Tampa General Hospital.
"He's the strongest little boy that I know," said Ginger Faulk, Levi's mother.
Ginger Faulk still can't believe a friend of 16 years, who she recently started dating, would severely abuse her baby.
"My heart broke instantly, that something like that could happen to him, and that I wasn't there to protect him. It's the worst feeling as a mother that you could ever have," said Faulk.
Deputies say Friday night, Ginger went to work, leaving Shawn Tucci to watch baby Levi. She called a couple times to check in. On the last call, Shawn told her he had tripped while holding baby Levi, and that the baby had some minor bumps and bruises. Ginger was so concerned, she left work early.
"Just call it a mother's instinct. I don't know. I can't explain it. Something just told me I needed to go home," said Faulk.
She found baby Levi with cuts, bruises, bite marks, and cigarette burns all over his body. The burns were so bad, he had to be moved from Lakeland Regional Hospital, to Tampa General Hospital. Ginger worries about how it all really happened and the trauma he suffered.
"Of course my main concern in the moment is my baby's well being and if he's okay, that he heals well, and that there's not going to be long-term treatment that he needs. But I really want to know why and what exactly happened," said Faulk.
Even still, she's counting her blessings. Baby Levi's making a remarkable recovery, and she hopes he never remembers the abuse.
"He's a very courageous and strong little boy. And if anything, he's my hero. If he can go on, and smile through this day, then I can get through this, too," said Faulk.
Friends, family, and even strangers, have also rallied around her family, sharing the story and doing what they can to help.
"When something this bad or evil happens, to have that good come into play with it, you know the world's not all bad. There's still good people out there," said Faulk.
But it will take her a long time to trust anyone again. She just hopes her heartache will be a warning for every parent to take a closer look at who you let get close to your kids.
Baby Levi is expected to make a full recovery, and hopefully will be able to go home soon.
As for the suspect, Shawn Tucci, he is in the Hillsborough County Jail awaiting transfer to Polk County to answer to the aggravated child abuse charge.