Two people were arrested in the Key Largo on charges of child abuse and sexual battery on a minor.
According to police, Randell John Howell, 36, allegedly punched, kicked and beat an 11-year-old boy with a belt. A woman renting a vacation home nearby called the Sheriff’s Office when the boy said he was afraid to go home due to the abuse.
Jennifer Franklin, 41, was charged with sexual battery on a child and cruelty toward a child after the boy told police Franklin would laugh at him as Howell would beat him.
The boy also said that he was only allowed to eat once per day. He would also be forced to clean the toilet with his personal toothbrush as punishment. Police found bruises and scrapes throughout his body.
As detectives continued to investigate, they found that Franklin allegedly forced him to perform sexual acts upon her. The victim told counselors that Franklin told him to never tell anyone what happened.
“This is a sad and disturbing case, but thanks to the willingness of a community member to get involved, the courage of the victim and the cooperation with our partners in law enforcement, the child is now safe and the suspects will face justice,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay of the Monroe County Sheriff’s office.
Both were arrested. Franklin remained in jail on Friday on $800,000 bail. Howell was released from jail Thursday after posting $25,000 bail. The boy remains in the care of DCF.
The boy’s relationship to Franklin and Howell remains unclear.