Inside a 14-year-old’s 8×8 garage ‘room’ and the punishments he endured

Inside a 14-year-old’s 8×8 garage ‘room’ and the punishments he endured

(As originally published with additional photos and video, Wed, February 9th 2022, 6:07 PM EST)

JUPITER, Fla. (WPEC) — “I feel like no one loves me.”

“Thousands of videos” showed a 14-year-old boy “being repeatedly locked inside of his room daily.”

“[The boy] stated the spankings would take place in his bedroom and he would be naked bent over his bed.”

Those quotes come from the arrest report for a couple in Jupiter, Florida charged with aggravated child abuse, and they’re giving disturbing insight into conditions at their home — specifically a small area of their garage.

Timothy and Tracy Ferriter, both 46, had been raising four children at their house in the Egret Landing development: a 2-year-old boy, 13- and 16-year-old girls and a 14-year-old boy. Some were adopted.

The case against them concerns their 14-year-old adopted son. Police said he ran away in late January. That led them to see the space in the garage, interview the boy and his sisters, and ultimately arrest the parents.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The information below comes from the arrest reports written by a Jupiter police detective. Names were blocked out before the report was made available, and CBS12 News put most of the pieces together.

On the evening of Friday, Jan. 28, two Jupiter police officers responded to a missing person investigation. Tracy Ferriter reported her 14-year-old son was missing and had run away from home several times before. She told police he had several behavioral disorders and was in trouble at school the day before, which is why she thought he ran away.

It was at this point an officer told the main detective on this case that police had been to the home of Tracy and Timothy Ferriter in December 2021. That was when somebody named Jack called to say he was asked to build an office in the garage of their home. Jack said he’d do the job but after getting directions, he thought it was very strange.

Jack said the room was an 8‘x8‘ space in the garage with its own ceiling and door, which “had a deadbolt lock and a knob only on the outside, no knob inside so if someone were inside the office they would not be able to exit unless someone opened the door for them from the outside,” according to the report. Jack added, the space needed electricity and a window air-conditioning unit, plus a camera in the ceiling — and he’d have just two days to complete the job.

On Sunday, Jan. 30, police say two officers knocked at the door and nobody was home. An officer called Tracy Ferriter to ask if they could check for her son inside, but she refused.

Around 10 that night, two other officers returned to the home. She said her son hadn’t returned and denied the officers entry. Finally, after a “long conversation,” she allowed one in. He said he went “to a room immediately inside the home and to the right of the front door. The room is described as a small office Tracy stated had been converted into a bedroom. Inside of the room was a small crib to the left and on the floor was a small plaid blanket and a pillow that Tracy advised [the boy] used stating he and [his two-year-old brother] share the room together.”

The officer continued describing the room: “The inside was vibrant and painted and had several small toys and belongings seeming to belong to [the toddler], as the toys were designed for younger ages. When I asked where [the 14-year-old’s] belongings were, Tracy then took me through the kitchen and advised he had toys and some belongings in the other room. Tracy stated further, there was a ‘structure’ the family had built for [the 14-year-old] in the garage.

The Ferriters and the ‘boy in the box’ case:

“Tracy brought me to the garage and showed me the structure; the structure is described as a small room with a plain white door. The door was open and had a doorknob and deadbolt, both locking from 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 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 bare drywall. The floor was a bare garage floor with part of an indoor-outdoor rug covering it.”

“While showing me the space, Tracy had several different explanations for the room. stating first the room was built as an office for [possibly her husband Timothy Ferriter, also charged]. “

The officer went on to say, “When questioned regarding the exterior lock, Tracy stated the room was used as storage for the family and then advised it was a space used by ‘all of the children.’ When asked why there was a bed and box spring inside and Tracy finally advised the space was ‘sometimes used by [the 14-year-old].’”

Police report the 14-year-old was discovered on a security camera at Independence Middle School. Police went there, used a drone, found the boy, and took him to the police station.

Inside a 14-year-old’s 8×8 garage ‘room’ and the punishments he endured
Timothy and Tracy Ferriter, charged with aggravated child abuse. (Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office)

The detective wrote, “I asked [the boy] to describe a typical day for him and he stated in the morning he is woken up by [someone] because his ‘door is locked.’

“[The boy] advised [somebody] would wake him up in the morning, tell him to go to the bathroom and then he would go back to his room; [the boy] said [somebody] would lock the door and usually turn the lights off.

“[The boy] advised he would be in his room until [somebody] would return from dropping his other siblings off at school.

“[The boy] advised once [his mother] was home she would feed him breakfast, consisting of a banana and a piece of bread and peanut butter.

“[The boy] stated after he was finished eating, [somebody] would come back into the room and he would get dressed and go to school.

“After school, [the boy] stated somebody would pick him up and his siblings up and return home and he would go back into his room. I asked [the boy] to describe his room and he stated it was ‘8×8.’

“[The boy] further stated the room had a lockable doorknob and deadbolt lock that both locked from the outside and there was a light switch on the outside of the room as well.

“[The boy] stated [someone] would always lock him in there, stating usually the bottom knob was the one locked.

“[The boy] stated he has to stay in his room when [somebody plural] are not home or when they ‘want’ him to be there.

“When asked how often he is in the room and he said ‘a lot.’

“I asked him, if he was home, if he would be playing with his friends or family and he said no and that he would be reading books in his room and stated he was not allowed to go anywhere else in the house.

“I asked [the boy] if he would like to be in his current room or a different room and he stated a different room.

“I asked [the boy] why he ran away and he stated ‘because I feel like no one loves me.’

“I asked [the boy] if he felt safe at home and he stated he did not because [somebody] gets ‘really aggressive’ with him.

“When asked to describe how [somebody] gets aggressive, he stated once [somebody] slammed him against a wall by his neck and struck him in the face with an open hand.

“When asked how often [somebody] has been physical with him, he stated that it ‘happened a lot in Arizona.’

“I asked [the boy] to describe discipline he receives and he stated [somebody male] gets ‘profane’ and angry and that he ‘sometimes spits in my face.’

“[The boy] further stated his discipline consists of spanking with a belt.

“I asked [the boy] if he ever sleeps in the room with [a sibling] and he stated he does not.

“[The boy] advised the longest he could remember being locked inside of the room was approximately 16-18 hours.

“[The boy] advised somebody provided him with a bucket to go to the bathroom, stating he has used the bucket several times in the past.

“[The boy] advised when he uses the bucket, he is made to dump it out in the backyard of the residence and clean it out.

“[The boy] stated he eats most of his meals in his bedroom, which usually consists of leftovers after the rest of the family eats.

“[The boy] advised if he is not in his room or at school, he is outside in the yard doing yard work [somebody] makes him do until being locked back inside of the room.

“[The boy] stated [somebody] is very physically abusive to him and he is fearful [somebody] may knock him out.

“[The boy] advised he had a room in Arizona similar to the room he has now, stating that room is approximately 8’x10′.

“Near the end of the interview, [the boy] advised he did not want to return to his family and pleaded with me to arrest him, stating he would rather be in prison than be back at home; [the boy] further stated he had suicidal thoughts.

“Based on [the boy’s] statements he was placed under a law enforcement Baker Act and transported to” the hospital for evaluation.

The next day, Tuesday, Feb. 1, authorities removed the girls from their schools and the toddler from the Ferriter home. The girls were interviewed.

One sister confirmed the 14-year-old boy’s allegations, stating “his room is in the garage and he gets put into his room when he is either misbehaving or in trouble and stated [the boy] is in trouble a lot.”

The girl said the “door has a lock on it that is locked from the outside and stated if [the boy] is in his room, the door is locked. When discussing the room, [the girl] began crying and became emotional, advising she wanted to ‘do the right thing’ for [the boy].” She also mentioned the camera in the room and a monitor.

She said “the punishments [the boy] receives are ‘extremely different’ from the ones she and her other sibling receive; advising when either her or [the other sister] are in trouble, they get their phone taken away or other restrictions. However, when [the boy] is in trouble, he gets locked into his room, made to do yardwork or write sentences. [The girl] advised she has seen [somebody] grab [the boy] by the neck but has not otherwise seen him be physically abusive, but stated she has heard [somebody] through the walls of his bedroom and hers. [The girl] stated [somebody] has told her he has been hit with a belt and a jump rope. [The girl] advised [the boy] has been locked in his room for hours at a time and uses a bucket to go to the bathroom in and stated he has used the bathroom on the floor before.”

Then, the other sister had her interview.

According to the arrest report, “she confirmed all of the statements [the victim] and [the other sister] made.” This sister didn’t know exactly what the room looks like since she hadn’t seen it in a while, “but stated she knows the room is in the garage and has a lock on the exterior to keep [the boy] inside. [This girl] stated she missed [the boy] and wished he were not in trouble as she has not been able to play with him lately. [The girl] stated over the weekend while [the boy] was missing, [somebody] took her and [somebody else] to Tampa for a softball tournament.“

Authorities were able to get a search warrant for the camera after speaking with the three children.

Caught on camera, according to the arrest report: “Thousands of videos were obtained which showed [the boy] being repeatedly locked inside of his room daily. Each day, [the boy] was placed in the room you could hear the door close and deadbolt lock. In several videos, you could hear and see both Tracy and Timothy Ferriter yelling at [the boy]. In one video in particular, [the boy] was locked in his room after being found to have ‘stolen’ chocolate and cookies from the kitchen despite being told he was not allowed to have them. This behavior resulted in [the boy] having the covers removed from his mattress, his mattress picked up and tossed against the wall and Timothy grabbing [the boy] against the arm yelling at him. Each morning when Timothy greets [the boy] he asks him ‘is it dirty’ and points to the bucket [the boy] has to use to relieve himself in that is kept in the corner of the bedroom; and one video [the boy] advises the bucket is dirty, Timothy yells at him to clean it, and [the boy] goes off camera.”

The next day, Wednesday, Feb. 2, two detectives went to the family’s previous home to talk with the current owner. A woman told them she knew the family, had never been inside their home, but told the detectives, according to the arrest report, “the current owners had noted a ‘creepy’ room in the garage. When asked to expound further [she] stated the room was only able to be locked from the outside and she only saw the walls but stated the current owners had it removed.”

The current owner “confirmed there was a room in the garage he had removed because the room could only be locked from the outside and he believed the room was made to keep someone inside of it. [The owner] advised the Realtor for the Ferriters described the room as a ‘bonus room,’ however when he was shown the room it had a small child-sized bed inside with comforter. [The owner] provided me with inspection documents for the residence, which showed photographs of the room. Although the Ferriters purchased the residence at [that location] in 2014, it is unknown when the room in the garage was built or for how long [the boy] was locked inside.”

Last Friday, Feb. 4, the boy was released from the hospital he’d been at since Monday. He was taken to the Child Protection Team for another interview. His answers hadn’t changed.

“During the interview, [the boy] confirmed he is made to stay locked in his bedroom in the garage and further confirmed it is an 8’x8′ space with a door that has a deadbolt and doorknob lock that are both locked from the outside.

“[The boy] stated the longest he can recall being locked inside of the room is 18 hours.

“[The boy] advised he does not have a bathroom in his room but stated he uses an orange Home Depot brand bucket to urinate and defecate in.

“[The boy] was asked about discipline during the interview and he advised he has received spankings before; both with a leather belt and a jump rope.

“[The boy] stated the spankings would take place in his bedroom and he would be naked bent over his bed.

“[The boy] stated he could recall one spanking was so painful he fell off his bed in pain.”

Detectives concluded, based on the testimony, there was probable cause to believe the Ferriters “willfully tortured, maliciously punished, or willfully and unlawfully caged [the boy], a child.”

Also, there was probable cause to believe the Ferriters “did forcibly, by threat, or secretly confined, abduct, imprison or restrain [the boy] against that person’s will and without lawful authority.”

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