An 8-year-old boy in Spring Hill, Florida, who had been locked in a bedroom for most of the last seven months without electricity or natural light started a fire on the one thing in his room, a mattress, in an effort to escape.
An arrest affidavit says that on October 5, the child started the fire to “in an attempt to escape the bedroom he was locked in.”
According to Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, emergency workers were called to the scene discovered a room where the child’s parents had kept him since March 1. While Nocco did not confirm it was the boy’s parents in the press conference, citing Marsey’s law, the arrest affidavit says the child was the son of Daniel Andrew Davis, 37, and Kelley Lynne Davis, 36 who had five other children living in the home, all girls, who ranged in ages from an infant to ten years old.
According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, one of those children slid a book of matches under the door to the boy.
Daniel Davis Admitted That the Family’s Dogs Lived in Better Conditions Than the 8-Year-Old, Whose Room Was Covered in Feces & Urine
During the press conference, Detective Randall Jones said that the Davis’ admitted that they locked the child in the room whenever he misbehaved and for 11 to 12 hours a night.
In the arrest report, it says that the only way to unlock the bedroom door was from the outside with a key, and there was a chain slide lock on the exterior of the door along with a board across the doorframe so the child could not break out.
The affidavit says that the window in the bedroom was covered by another board that was screwed into the wall. The ceiling fan had no lightbulbs and the string to pull to adjust the fan speed was missing, but that was moot because according to Nocco, the Davis’s had flipped the breaker to that room so no electricity or light was available to the boy.
The only items in the room were a mattress and a blanket, according to court documents.
Nocco said, “Not only was it a physical punishment that was going on there, but the psychological [abuse] that this child endured is absolutely horrendous.”
According to Jones, the father, Daniel Davis, admitted that the dog lived better than his son.
Jones said, “During my interview, my interview with Daniel, he freely admitted that the dogs that live in that home are in better living conditions than the child, and that was that says a lot about the mentality of the people that are arrested for this crime — freely admitted without hesitation — that the dogs in that household have more freedom and better living conditions.”
The Sheriff’s Office Said the Other Children Had Toys but the Boy Did Not Have Any Toys in the Home
While the Davis’s kept their son locked in a bedroom most of the time with only a mattress and a pillow, their daughters were “not treated in the manner described,” according to an arrest affidavit.
According to Jones, “the victim “was treated differently” than the other children in the home. Jones said Daniel Davis tried to explain “certain personalities that he didn’t like about this child.”
Jones said, “During the investigation, it was obvious that there was a difference in the way that he was treated. Part of that being, there was not one toy in the house” that belonged to the boy. But Jones said there were lots of toys around the house for the other children.
Nocco said that his agency had been called to the location in the recent past, but deputies did not see any signs of abuse because they didn’t go inside. Nocco said on “August 26 of this year, a neighbor called Pasco sheriff’s office because the child was seen unsupervised rummaging through the refrigerator which is in the garage.”
According to the sheriff, Daniel Davis was talking to the deputy who responded to the call about his son, saying the boy had behavioral issues and there were possible mental health issues, but at that time the deputy did not suspect abuse or neglect of the 8-year-old child who was accused of trying to steal food from a neighbor.
Nocco also said he thinks the other children suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, defined by Healthline as “a psychological response. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers.”
He said he thinks that because the other children seemed normal when deputies were around them and since they were very young likely didn’t realize the way the brother was being treated was not normal. Nocco told reporters that the children were homeschooled and rarely left the home.
Kelley and Daniel Davis were both arrested and charged with one count of aggravated child abuse. The other children were taken from the home into protective custody.