Recognizing signs of physical child abuse
The father and step-mother of a Myakka City boy are facing charges, including possibly murder, after the 12-year-old child died in an Indiana hospital last week.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana said it had found evidence that indicated the boy had been restrained in a motel bathtub where the family was staying.
Officials said Eduardo Posso was so emaciated when he was brought into Bloomington Hospital by his father, he only weighed about 50 to 55 pounds and had zero percent body fat.
The boy and his three siblings, ages 9, 5 and 2, had been pulled out of school in December, and were traveling with the couple who were working as contractors, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. The couple, 32-year-old Luis Posso, and 26-year-old Dayan Median Flores, were in town promoting multiple businesses, including a show by Cirque Italia, based out of Manatee County.
Posso and Flores are facing charges that include multiple counts of felony child neglect and one count each of confinement. Posso also faces one count of domestic battery. Additional charges may be pending. Investigators are waiting on autopsy results.
Posso and Flores told investigators Eduardo “acted up the most” and was the one they had “issues” with, according to Detective Lt. Jennifer Allen.
“But indications seem to be that this (young) man, Eduardo, lived a very sad life, a lot of times under restraint and his life gradually diminished after repeated acts of abuse by his father, with the full knowledge of the step-mother,” said Sheriff Brad Swain.
Swain called the case “beyond anything” he had ever worked.
The sheriff’s department was called to the hospital where doctors found extreme signs of abuse and declared the boy dead, Swain said in a news conference live streamed to the department’s Facebook page Tuesday.
Though the cause and manner of death have yet to be officially determined, Swain said they believe the boy starved to death. Allen said in the news conference the malnourishment in the boy would have been evident, with him having zero percent body fat.
Eduardo also had bruises all over his body, Monroe County Coroner Joani Shields said in the same news conference, adding it would have been a long time the child had been without nourishment.
The boy’s father and stepmother were arrested in connection with Eduardo’s abuse following his death.
When investigators searched the Bloomington motel room where the family was staying, they found restraints, a dog’s shock collar and a web-based security system, Swain and Allen said in the news conference.
“There’s really no words for this type of abuse,” Allen said. Investigators also searched the couple’s cell phones and found an application for the security system, along with several photos and videos showing Eduardo in the tub restrained and wearing a shock collar.
“We believe probably within the last year things seem to have gotten more severe. We do have some photographs and some videos on some of the devices that show that he appeared to be similar to a happy little boy approximately a year ago,” Allen said.
The other children living with the couple seemed to be in good health and were taken into foster care, according to the sheriff’s office. Allen said none of the children were in school at the time.
Allen said both Posso and Flores denied withholding food from Eduardo.
Swain said there was some Child Protective Services involvement with the family in Florida, but he could not elaborate.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office had investigated concerns related to Eduardo and closed what they called an unsubstantiated case involving the family last year, sheriff’s office spokesman Randy Warren confirmed Wednesday.
A student named Eduardo Posso previously attended Myakka City Elementary School, but was withdrawn in December 2018, School District of Manatee County spokesman Mike Barber said. It was unclear how long the child was enrolled in Manatee County schools.
Kathy Price, the principal at Myakka City Elementary, notified the school community Wednesday afternoon of the “tragic death of a former student that occurred in another state.” In a recorded message, Price said school staff had not spoken to students about what had happened, but wanted parents to be aware since the death had been reported by news media and on social media.
Posso and Median Flores were working for an advance advertising business, an independent contractor that is typically hired in the circus business to promote a touring show, according to a news release from Cirque Italia.
“The circus company feels terribly about the tragedy that has occurred and the loss of this young boy’s life,” the circus said.
The circus said it is cooperating with the sheriff’s office investigation, and pledged to share “what limited information they have to assist in this investigation,” through an attorney.
“The advance advertising business is located in Florida but has no direct connection with this circus and indeed does advertising for numerous other businesses,” the statement also said. “The individuals involved in this situation have never had any direct employment, contact or business relationship with the circus.”