(As originally published with additional photos and video, Tue, March 1st 2022, 11:34 AM EST)
JUPITER, Fla. (CBS12) — CBS12 News spoke exclusively with the builder hired by the couple in Jupiter charged with physically abusing and forcing their 14-year-old son to live in a wooden box in their garage for five years.
Jacques Ben Aim told CBS12 News reporter Stefany Valderrama he took the two-day job in December, 2021. The agreed-upon fee was $3,000.
He said Timothy Ferriter told him the room in the garage would become a home office.
The contractor told Stefany that initially, no red flags were set off. That didn’t happen until the end of the project when he said he was instructed to carve a hole in the back of the enclosure.
He said he was told the hole would be for a camera. He said he was also told to put a deadbolt lock on the outside of the door, and put the light switch for the room on the outside of the structure.
The next day, in late December, Ben Aim said he tipped off police about the odd requests that he was asked to complete, as part of building that “home office” for the family.
The Ferriters and the ‘boy in the box’ case:
- 2022-03-31 Ferriters claim kids hacked their email, want that info kept out of their abuse trial
- 2022-03-07 Exclusive: Box where boy was allegedly locked up has been torn down, removed
- 2022-02-10 Lawyer: Boy in box ‘fantasizes about killing people’
- 2022-02-09 Inside a 14-year-old’s 8×8 garage ‘room’ and the punishments he endured
In late January, detectives from the Jupiter Police Department responded to that home in the Egret Landing community, following up on a 14-year-old boy who had run away and was missing. That was the same home that the contractor had reported to police.
According to the arrest report, Tracy Ferriter 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 around 10 p.m. on Jan. 30 that two Jupiter police officers went to the home. She said her son hadn’t returned and denied the officers entry. Finally, after a “long conversation,” she allowed one in.
Eventually, they got to the garage.
The arrest report says, “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.”
The arrest report continued, “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].’”
Once inside the home, a detective noticed that 8′-by-8′ structure within the garage that was described by the mother, Tracy Ferriter, as a small office, according to the arrest report.
Officials reported that inside the room was a camera, a mattress, and a bucket used as a bathroom.
On Jan. 31, detectives located the missing runaway on a security camera around his school — Independence Middle School — and were able to conduct several interviews with him, along with two of his sisters.
Investigators determined the 14 year old had been forced to live in the garage.
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.’ …
“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] 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.”
According to the police report, the teen was able to attend school; however, he was confined to the garage for the remainder of the day. His meals were brought to him and the bucket was for bathroom use.
- “Thousands of videos” showing the 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.”
- “I asked [the boy] why he ran away and he stated ‘because I feel like no one loves me.’”
Child Protective Services removed all four children from the home: a 2-year-old boy, 13- and 16-year-old girls and the 14-year-old boy.