A Florida father was found guilty on Thursday of child abuse and other charges after he locked his adopted son in a prison-like room that he hired a contract worker to build in the family’s garage – sometimes dropping in meals and a bucket for a bathroom.
Timothy Ferriter, 48, was convicted on one count each of aggravated child abuse, false imprisonment, and neglect of a child for the torture-like treatment meted out to the boy. Palm Beach County jurors deliberated for two hours and 33 minutes before finding the defendant guilty on all the charges, according to the verdict clock provided by the Law&Crime Network.
The since-condemned man was initially arrested on Feb. 8, 2022, on child abuse and false imprisonment charges. His wife, Tracy Ferriter, 48, was also charged then. Their trials were severed on a request from the husband’s defense attorney, who claimed the wife made inconsistent statements throughout the investigation.
Evidence during the trial and previously attested to by police noted the child’s prison-like home was 8-by-8 feet.
“The juvenile was able to attend school; however, was confined to the structure during the remainder of the day,” the Jupiter Police Department said at the time of the arrest. “Meals were brought to the child, and the bucket was provided for bathroom use.”
The alleged victim was forced to clean the bucket himself, he told police. The boy also said he was physically abused.
The criminal investigation into the couple began as a runaway child case, as Law&Crime previously reported.
On Jan. 28, 2022, the boy was reported missing. Two days later, officers visited the Ferriters to check the child’s status and see if he had returned. The couple were allegedly hesitant to allow law enforcement inside but eventually did.
An officer described the small room inside the garage:
The door was open and had a doorknob and deadbolt, both locking from the exterior of the room. To the left of the door was a light switch also on the exterior of the room. Inside of the room to the right was a small plain box spring and on top of that a mattress with a gray sheet and a pillow. Straight in the room was a small dark colored desk with schoolbooks and small children’s books along with a foldable chair; above the bed in the room was a black ‘ring’ brand camera. It should be noted the room was a small plain white structure with no paint or color on the walls and appeared to be drywall. The floor was a bare garage floor with part of an indoor-outdoor rug covering it…
Soon enough, reports came in that the boy was back at school. Officers responded and eventually questioned him about his home life, including why he ran away.
“Because I feel like no one loves me,” the boy told officers, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The teen told investigators his family would get “really aggressive” with him, explaining how he was once slammed against a wall, often spit at, and spanked with a belt.
Evidence during the trial showed the boy was kept in a similar room with “no freedom of movement” or access to lights, beginning when he was 11 when the family lived in Arizona.
Defense attorneys argued the defendant was forced to make “tough choices” about his adopted son because the boy suffers from “reactive attachment disorder” and was aggressive and dangerous. In the end, jurors didn’t quite care for that excuse.
Timothy Ferriter’s sentencing is slated for Nov. 16.
He faces up to 30 years in prison for the combined counts. Earlier this year, he turned down a plea deal offering 24 months behind bars.
After the verdict, outside the courtroom, the defense attorney told the press that his acceptance of the plea was contingent on his wife getting and taking the same deal. But that never happened.
Tracy Ferriter was initially scheduled to go on trial in late September. However, those proceedings were canceled, and a new trial has yet to be scheduled, according to Palm Beach County court records.
Vanessa Bein and Christina Bubba contributed to this report.
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