OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that it has arrested a couple who beat their 6-year-old son to death for drinking from a toilet in the hotel room in which they lived with five other people.
The boys’ parents -- Larry Rhodes Jr, 22, and Bianca Blaise, 25 -- are also charged with abusing their five other children.
Investigators said Blaise called 911 on July 7 to report that her son had drowned in a toilet in a room at the Knights Inn on West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway.
Deputies said they discovered the beaten boy, who was not breathing, in a toilet.
Two of the woman’s other children told detectives that the boy had been beaten, and neighboring residents reported hearing a thud and crying.
Detectives said the boy had likely drunken toilet water because he was thirsty and there was not much to eat or drink in the hotel room.
Blaise beat the child and Rhodes repeatedly punched him in the head and stomach, investigators said.
The boy was taken to a hospital with a brain bleed and a lacerated liver, and he died there several days later.
Sheriff Marco Lopez said he has never seen a worse case of child abuse in his career.
“Imagine being (beaten so badly that) blood is being left on the bottom of a shoe,” he said. “They were beaten so much to the point where you’re not crying anymore.”
Lopez said the children, who range in age from 10 months old to the six-year-old who died, did not leave the room, go to school or have friends.
“These people were savages,” he said of the suspects.
Detectives arrested the couple on child abuse charges July 7, and they were charged with murder Tuesday.
They said their other children were malnourished, but they are now in foster care and doing well.
Those who know or suspect that a child may be a victim of abuse or neglect should call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 800-962-2873, Florida Relay at 711 or TTY 800-955-8771, or online here.
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