A Florida waitress who noticed bruises on an 11-year-old boy flashed him a handwritten note asking him if he needed help, and when he nodded yes, she called the police, authorities said.
"Do you need help?" the note said.
Orlando police credited Flaviane Carvalho, a waitress at Mrs. Potato Restaurant, with coming to the boy's aid on New Year's Eve when the child’s parents weren’t looking.
Police took the boy to a hospital where doctors found bruises on his face, earlobes and arms. He also was 20 pounds underweight, Detective Erin Lawler told local media.
“‘Abuse,’ I say lightly,” Lawler said Thursday at a news conference. “It was torture.”
The boy told detectives that he had been tied by his ankles and neck and hung upside down from a door in his home. He also told detectives that his stepfather beat him with a wooden broom, a back scratcher and closed fists, and that he’d been handcuffed and tied to a large moving dolly, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The boy’s 34-year-old stepfather was arrested on charges of child abuse and neglect on the night the waitress called police, according to an arrest affidavit.
The child’s 31-year-old mother, who was also at the restaurant, was arrested a week later on a child neglect charge.