TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A now 15-year-old girl texted her online instructor that she needed help and to send police to her home in Margate after nearly a decade of abuse from her guardians, according to an arrest report.
Police discovered teen’s guardians, Latricia Crawley, 46, and Benjamin Lockett, 43, punched the teen in her head, slamming her head into the corner of a desk. Her head was bleeding and had visible swelling. She was taken to a nearby medical facility for treatment.
Officers found scars consistent with ligature marks, as well as bruising, bite marks from insects, and signs of malnutrition.
Crawley and Lockett, the teen’s uncle, have had custody of the teen since 2014 and said they have “maliciously tortured” the teen causing permanent disfigurement, and caged her in two different closets.
Lockett had gotten upset when he thought the teen ate candy and repeatedly threatened to hurt her. She also claimed he threatened to not feed her for a week and made her shower before police arrived at the home after he found the texts she sent her teacher.
While in custody, Lockett told police the teen fell on the floor and told her to shower to wash off the blood.
The teen told officers in the past Crawley had kicked her in the chin, forced her to kneel on rice for several days after oiling her knees, thrown boiled water on her, and struck her with a hammer on her toes while tied to a fixed object. Officials observed all permanent markings on the teen’s body, due to the abuse.
According to the arrest report, officers found a locking mechanism on the closets and blood on the floor within the home. The teen said she would sometimes be locked in the closet, tied with zip ties, with a bucket for a bathroom. She also claimed Crawley would put duct tape over her eyes and dunk her head in water.
While in custody, officials said Crawley made no attempts to find the teen or check on her wellbeing. She also expressed a desire to release custody of the teen.
CPS took custody of the child, the arrest report said.
Lockett was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony of child abuse without great bodily harm.
Crawley was arrested on a $25,000 bond. and charged with one charge of a first-degree felony of aggravated child abuse and two charges of a second-degree felony of child neglect with great bodily harm.