A waitress in Florida says it raised a red flag for her when she noticed that an 11-year-old boy wasn't being allowed to order food. When she saw bruises on his face between his mask and his hoodie, she decided to do something. Police say the quick thinking of the waitress, Flavaine Carvalho, helped rescue the boy from abuse so severe it would have likely ended in murder, WFTV reports. Carvalho, who works at the Mrs. Potato restaurant in Orlando, wrote "Do you need help?" on a piece of paper and held it up where the boy—but not his parents—could see it. When he nodded, she called 911. "I'm super concerned and I don't know what to do, can you give me some advice? What I can do?" Carvalho told dispatchers, per Fox 35. "The boy is with bruises and he's not eating," she said, "The others are eating."
Police discovered that the boy's body was almost entirely covered in bruises. He told investigators that stepfather Timothy Wilson had beaten him with fists and a broom, hung him upside down from a door, and handcuffed him to furniture. The boy, who was around 20 pounds underweight, said food was regularly withheld as punishment. "What this child had gone through was torture," Detective Erin Lawler said. "There was no justification for it in any realm of the world." Wilson was arrested for child abuse and Kristen Swann, the boy's mother, was charged with child neglect. The boy and his 4-year-old sister were removed from the couple's custody. Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon praised Carvalho for intervening. "The lesson here for all of us is to recognize when we see something that isn’t right to act on it," he said. "This saved the life of a child." (In Kentucky, a pizza delivery driver helped rescue two abused girls.)