Child trapped in dark room sets mattress on fire to escape ‘deplorable’ conditions; parents arrested

Pasco County

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Two parents were arrested in Spring Hill Monday on child abuse charges after one of their children set a mattress on fire to escape the “deplorable” conditions of their bedroom.

The Pasco Sheriff’s Office said Kelley Davis, 36, and Daniel Davis, 37, have six children ranging from infant to 10-years-old but have kept just one of them locked in a bedroom with no power, no toys or games, and no extra furniture since at least March.

Investigators said the parents didn’t fully indicate why they singled out the one child, other than pointing to certain personality traits they didn’t like including bad behavior.

In addition to the young boy under the age of 10, the Davis’s are guardians for 5 girls in the home between infancy and 10 years old who had toys, electricity, and who deputies said were treated fine.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said the parents admitted to deputies that the dogs in their house had better living conditions that the young boy.

“What these individuals did was just evil,” said Sheriff Nocco. “Pictures will never give justice to what this child went through, you don’t see the bugs and you’ll never feel the emotional neglect he felt,” said Sheriff Nocco.

“That’s ridiculous, I’m repulsed, that’s disgusting,” said Tara Bowen who has lived in the neighborhood 23 years and lived right across the street from the Davis home.

The sheriff’s office initially responded to the home in Spring Hill Monday morning after reports of an arson in progress. When deputies arrived, they discovered one of the couple’s children had set fire to their mattress in order to escape their bedroom.

Room neighbors say the child lived in with a boarded up window.

Deputies soon discovered the child was often locked in the bedroom without electricity or natural light. The door was locked from the outside and a board was nailed to the exterior door frame, preventing the child from escaping. Deputies said the only window in the room was covered with a board screwed into the wall.

The ceiling fan in the room did not have light bulbs in it, but even if it did, deputies said the suspects turned the power out to the child’s room at the circuit breaker.

Deputies said they also found feces on the wall and urine on the floor of the bedroom. The suspects reportedly admitted the child had to yell for them if they needed to use the bathroom, but wouldn’t always hear it. They also admitted to locking the child in the room at night for about 11 or 12 hours at a time.

Sheriff Nocco said the children have Stockholm Syndrome.

“That’s horrifying, I’m disgusted. I’m mad that people like that exist. Don’t have kids, why have kids if you’re going to do that?” Bowen said.

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said detectives learned that one of the victim’s five sisters passed a box of matches under the door that the child then used to set the mattress on fire.

Daniel and Kelley Davis were each charged with one count of aggravated child abuse. All children inside the home are now in protective custody.

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