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Orlando waitress saves 11-year-old from abusive household with a secret note

"I just thought I need to do something," she explained. "I could not see him go away without any help."

Orlando waitress saves 11-year-old from abusive household with a secret note
Image source: Orlando Police Department

The quick thinking of an Orlando waitress has helped identify an underaged abuse victim and rescue him from his cruel step-father and mother. Flavaine Carvalho is being hailed a hero for taking timely action to help save the 11-year-old boy from his parents after she noticed something was wrong while serving their table on New Year's Day. The woman's boss Rafaela Cabede said in a press conference on Thursday afternoon that it was divine intervention that brought Carvalho to work at the Mrs. Potato restaurant that day. Although she originally wasn't scheduled to work on January 1, she had agreed to work a shift after someone called in sick.

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According to CNN, the restaurant had been busy throughout the day since it was a holiday and when things finally slowed down at night, only one family was left in the establishment. Carvalho noticed that a boy who was with two adults and a young girl at the table hadn't ordered anything for himself. He wasn't eating anything even after the food was served. He was wearing a mask and hoodie and although she couldn't see much, Carvalho said she saw that he had a scratch in between his eyebrows.

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It struck her odd that the child wasn't eating and that he was quiet while the rest of his family were talking and playing. Her suspicions grew when she asked the table if their food and drinks were OK and one of the adults replied that the boy would eat his dinner at home. "You don't deny food for a kid, especially in a restaurant," she said. Carvalho then saw bruising on the side of the boy's face and arm and decided to try to help the boy in some way. "I just thought I need to do something," she explained. "I could not see him go away without any help."

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Caravalho wrote a note asking the boy if he was okay and stood behind the parents where they couldn't see her holding it. The boy nodded no. "I knew it -- that he is afraid or he is not comfortable saying that he needs help," Carvalho said, adding that she then decided to write another note. "Do you need help?" it read. Carvalho said the boy nodded yes and "made a movement with his hands showing he didn't know what to do." She immediately alerted her boss about the situation and called 911 to raise her concerns about the boy.

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"One of the kids is with a lot of bruises on his arms and on his face and the parent is not giving food for him but is giving to the other kids that are with them," she is heard telling dispatchers in the recording of the 911 call released by the Orlando Police Department. "I'm super concerned and I don't know what to do. Can you give me some advice?" When police arrived and questioned the child, the youngster told detectives that he had suffered abuse at the hands of his stepfather, Timothy Lee Wilson II.

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According to an Orlando Police Department news release, the boy also informed detectives that he had been hit with a wooden broom, hung upside down from a door, and was regularly denied food as punishment. Detective Erin Lawler with the Orlando Police special victims unit revealed during a press conference last week that Wilson was arrested at the restaurant, and the boy's mother, Kristen Swann, was taken into custody on January 6 after the boy made additional disclosures of alleged abuse. Court records show that Wilson is charged with multiple counts of aggravated child abuse and neglect while Swann — who admitted to detectives that she knew about the abuse and failed to seek medical care for her son — is charged with two counts of child neglect.

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Swann's and Wilson's 4-year-old child was removed from the home following the arrests of the parents and was found to not have suffered any abuse, said Lawler. The boy was taken to a hospital for his injuries, where he was found to be 20 pounds underweight for his age and with bruises in various stages of healing across his entire body. "What this child had gone through it was torture," Lawler said with tears in her eyes. "I'm a mother and seeing what that 11-year-old had to go through... It shocks your soul. If Ms. Carvalho would not have said something when she saw it that little boy would probably not be with us much longer."

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Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon also praised Carvalho for the part she played in rescuing the boy. "Because of her, two children... were saved. We probably would have been talking about a potential homicide investigation if she had not intervened when she did," he said. "We truly believe that this was a holy provision, and we were very blessed that we were able to help this child," said Cabede. 

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