A waitress’ quick thinking and empathy may have indirectly saved the life of a young boy.
Timothy Lee Wilson II was found guilty by a six-person Orange County, Florida, jury after two hours of deliberations.
His crimes included two counts of false imprisonment of a child under 13 years of age, three counts of aggravated child abuse with a weapon, four counts of aggravated child abuse, and one count of child neglect, according to an announcement made today by Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Monique H. Worrell.
Wilson, 36, is the stepfather of the victim he was found guilty of abusing, though his actions and behavior may have never been known if it wasn’t for a woman named Flaviane Carvalho.
Worrell’s office reported that Carvalho, a waitress at Mrs. Potato Restaurant in Orlando, served Wilson’s family of four at about 11 pm on New Year’s Day 2021.
The victim was reportedly “secluded” from his family and “deprived of food and beverages.”
FOX 35 reported that Wilson’s stepson was the only individual at the table not eating. When asked by Carvalho why he wasn’t eating, Wilson reportedly said the boy of unknown age would be eating at home later on.
The waitress then feared the worst.
“I could see he had a big scratch between his eyebrows,” Carvalho said during a 2021 press conference, according to FOX 35. “Couple of minutes later, I saw a bruise on the side of his eye. So I felt there was something really wrong.”
Carvalho, who had an 18-year-old daughter of her own at the time, decided to spring into action. She wrote a note that read “Do you need help? Ok” and held it while standing behind the boy’s parents. He reportedly signaled he was in distress, which led to Carvalho calling police.
“I’m super concerned and I don’t know what to do,” she reportedly said during the 911 call. “Can you give me some advice? What I can do? The boy is with bruises and he’s not eating.”
Worrell’s office said that subsequent investigations discovered that the victim “had been tortured, maliciously punished, and deprived of food and water for days at a time.”
A search warrant reportedly revealed that the victim was kept in a separate hotel room used for storage, away from his stepfather, mother and younger sibling. Duct tape covered the peephole to the victim’s room.
“He was made to do military-style exercises, hung upside down from a door by his neck and feet, and at one point, handcuffed to a dolly cart on Christmas Day,” Worrell’s office said. “Officers recovered multiple items used as weapons—a bent metal pole, a wooden broom, a dolly cart, handcuffs, and ratchet straps used to tie the victim up.”
Wilson was arrested on one count of third-degree child abuse, and arrested a second time on January 6, 2021, on multiple counts of aggravated child abuse and child neglect.
Wilson’s wife and the victim’s mother, Kristen Swann, is reportedly admitted to being privy to the abuse and never sought medical care. She was also arrested and charged with two counts of child neglect.
“We probably would’ve been talking about a potential homicide investigation if [Carvalho] had not intervened when she did,” said Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon, according to WESH 2.
‘Taking a Stand and Speaking Up’
The Florida Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers reported that in 2018, the network served over 34,000 children who were victims of child abuse or neglect.
That included a 60 percent female population and over one-third of victims who were between the ages of 0 and 6. The affected children received 20,259 therapy services; 17,297 crisis intervention services; 11,120 medical evaluations; and 10,675 forensic/specialized interviews.
On January 14, 2021, a GoFundMe was created to honor the “hero” Carvalho due to her place of work receiving myriad calls from citizens wondering how they could express their gratitude.
Today, about a year and a half later, over $46,500 has been raised.
“The outcome of this story was only possible because of her act of kindness, compassion and how fearlessly she stood up for this child,” the GoFundMe said. “The purpose of this GoFundMe is to reward Flaviane for taking a stand and speaking up. Kindness is not something that necessarily needs to be rewarded.”
On January 2 of this year, Carvalho wrote on the GoFundMe page that she “spent the whole day with that sweet boy in my head” and wanted the story to motivate others to commit acts of kindness in their own lives.
Just the other day, she expressed her gratitude that the boy’s stepson will likely never be able to abuse the boy again.
“Thank God the boy is very well and being raised with a lot of love,” she said.
Wilson will be fulfilling on August 19.
Newsweek reached out to Carvalho for comment.