Orlando Waitress Saved 11-Year-Old’s Life With a Secret Sign, Police Chief Says

An Orlando waitress saved a boy from abusive parents, authorities say: Flaviane Carvalho sent secret messages to the boy and then called police.


Jan. 15 2021, Published 12:59 p.m. ET

A waitress in Orlando, Fla., saved an 11-year-old boy’s life on Jan. 1, in the eyes of Orlando Police Department Chief Orlando Rolón. According to WESH 2 News, Flaviane Carvalho was working at Mrs. Potato Restaurant when she noticed that the boy had bruises and that a man at the table wasn’t letting the boy order food. So she wrote a sign and flashed the message to him behind his parents’ back: “Do you need help?”

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The boy nodded, and Carvalho — who’s also a manager at the restaurant — called police to report possible child abuse. “We probably would have been talking about a potential homicide investigation if she had not intervened when she did,” Rolón said.

The boy described horrific abuse to the police.

OPD detective Erin Lawler said that the extent of the boy’s injuries and malnutrition became apparent when police took him to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. He was 20 pounds underweight, both his eyelids and earlobes were mottled and bruised, and his arm was so bruised that it was painful for him to roll up his sleeve, Lawler said. 

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“If Ms. Carvalho would not have said something when she saw it, that little boy would probably not be with us much longer,” Lawler told reporters at a recent press conference. “And ‘abuse,’ I say lightly. It was torture, to be completely honest, that this child had received at the hand of his stepfather.”

The boy later reported he had been tied by his ankles and hung upside down from a door at home, and that his stepfather beat him with fists, a wooden broom, and a back scratcher, the newspaper reports. He said he had also been handcuffed and tied to a large moving dolly, according to police.

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Lawler also said that detectives found out the boy’s parents routinely withheld food and forced the boy to exercise as punishment. The boy faced punishment when he couldn’t hold a plank position for 30 minutes, and he was hung upside down from his ankles when he couldn’t hold a handstand, according to detectives. And he was handcuffed to furniture after “Santa” suggested that he be punished, Lawler said.

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His mother and stepfather were arrested.

34-year-old Timothy Wilson II, the boy’s stepfather, was arrested on charges of child abuse and neglect, per an OPD arrest affidavit cited by the Sentinel. And the boy’s mother, 31-year-old Kristen Swann, was arrested on Jan. 6 on a child neglect charge, with detectives alleging that she knew about the abuse but didn’t seek help.

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“That child was destined to be killed,” Rolón said, per the newspaper. “That’s how severe the injuries were. That’s how horrific the recollection of the abuse the child shared with us was.”

The public can donate money for the benefit of the boy and his younger sister.

Both the boy and his 4-year-old sister — who appeared not to have been abused — were removed from the household by Florida Department of Children and Families.

The Sentinel reports that donations for the children can be mailed to: COLE, SCOTT & KISSANE , P.A. Trust Account; c/o The Northern Trust Company; 600 Brickell Avenue, Suite 2400; Miami, Florida 33131; Attn: Michael Villasana; for the benefit of the minor children of Wilson/Swann.

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