Kelley & Daniel Davis Florida parents arrested after child is found locked inside a dark, boarded-up room covered in human waste for months.
The child was rescued on Monday after setting fire to the soiled mattress in the bedroom, which drew first responders to the house.
Deputies arrested Kelley Lynne Davis, 36, and her husband, 37-year-old Daniel Andrew Davis, after responding to their home in Spring Hill near the county line for a report of arson fire just after 10.40am on Monday.
Explained Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco during a Tuesday press conference, ‘This is one of those cases that will tear your heart apart.’
Nocco said that the parents, whom he characterized as ‘pure evil,’ had kept the child locked in a bedroom with no electricity, no toys, no games or television since at least March.
He said the conditions inside the room were worse than in solitary confinement in prison. It remained unclear how much longer the abuse would have continued had the victim child managed to set fire to the mattress.
Nocco declined to release the victim’s age, gender or relationship to the couple, citing state privacy laws, the Tampa Bay Times reported. But there’s more.
The single window in the room had been boarded up with screws to prevent natural light from streaming in, and the door had an elaborate, multi-level locking system on the outside to stop the child from leaving.
The sheriff described the conditions inside the room as ‘deplorable’ and not fit for even ‘the worst in our society,’ with feces and urine everywhere, including the mattress and a blanket.
The parents reportedly admitted the child had to yell for them to ask to use the bathroom, but they would not always hear the cries, forcing him to relieve himself on the floor.
The Davises also allegedly admitted to locking the child in the room for up to 12 hours overnight and when the victim misbehaved.
The parents failed to explain why they targeted the child for mistreatment, only referring to certain personality traits they did not like.
Nocco said that it is believed that the couple’s children exhibited Stockholm syndrome – a psychological condition where hostages develop and alliance with their captors in the course of their captivity.
But according to the sheriff, one of the couple’s five daughters was able to set aside her bond with the parents and extend help to her isolated sibling by slipping a book of matches under the door, leading to the fire that alerted authorities.
Nocco told reporters it was a telling sign that after discovering the fire in her child’s bedroom, the mother’s first phone call was not to 911 but to her husband.
A detective assigned to the case said during Monday’s press briefing that after his arrest, Daniel Davis ‘freely admitted that the dogs that lived in that home had better conditions’ than his child.
‘No matter how many times you look at something, just know the conditions are a million times worse, the smells, the bugs in the room,’ Nocco stressed.
The sheriff said that there were previous calls for service to the family’s residence in February and July, but nothing suspicious was found on those occasions. Deputies said all of children were homeschooled and rarely left the residence. It remained unclear how recently the children had been removed from school and what alarms that ought to have triggered?
On August 26, a neighbor called 911 after seeing an unsupervised child rummaging through a refrigerator in the Davises’ garage.
Deputies who responded to the scene spoke to the child, who did not say anything. The father said the child has behavioral and possibly mental health issues.
‘Everything about this is just sad,’ Nocce noted. ‘It’s beyond belief how evil people can be.’
Daniel and Kelley Davis are being held in the county jail on $50,000 bond each.
All six of their children are now in protective custody.