Crime

Former Polk County deputy charged with using 'Stupid Stick' to abuse wife, autistic son

WINTER HAVEN -- A Winter Haven man, a former Polk County Sheriff's deputy in the 1980s, is accused of physically abusing and emotionally torturing his wife and autistic stepson, often using what he called the "Stupid Stick."

Phillip Dale Simons, 52, was arrested late Tuesday night after police said his attempt to elude officers failed.

According to Winter Haven police, officers were notified Tuesday that a woman and a minor were being abused inside a Winter Haven home.

Police said the woman said Simon repeatedly hit her with a walking stick that he called the "Stupid Stick," and that he also threatened her several times by waving firearms around her and the 15-year-old victim.

The woman said Simons would repeatedly go into a rage for unknown reasons, with yelling and physical abuse, police said. Sometimes the abuse would be committed with his bare hands, but mostly he used the "Stupid Stick," according to the report.

Police said the woman told them that before Simons left for his job in Orlando, he would repeatedly threaten her with bodily harm if she ever told law enforcement about what was happening. As a result, police said the woman was afraid for her life, as well as the lives of others inside the house.

Simons reportedly followed up on those threats with severe beatings on the arms, legs, torso and head with the "Stupid Stick."

Police said the minor also reported that Simons would grab the victim's genitals in an aggressive manner.

On May 16, police said Simons threatened the woman by placing the barrel of a handgun in her mouth, saying he would kill her and make the 15-year-old and another minor watch. The second minor is severely disabled, non-verbal and under 24-hour nursing care inside of the residence.

Police said that threat was in response to the woman telling Simons about her plan to report the abuse to law enforcement.

On Tuesday, Simons beat the woman again before leaving for work, telling her that if she were ever to involve law enforcement he would kill her, police said.

Police said once the abuse was reported, detectives quickly started looking for Simons, while working to ensure the safety of the victims in the house.

Officers were waiting for Simons when he tried to return to the home late Tuesday night. They said he parked his vehicle away from the residence and tried to hide around the house, but officers were able to find him and take him into custody without further incident.

After Simons was arrested, detectives went into the house and found eight long guns, five handguns, ammunition, reloading equipment, holsters and boot knives, the report said. Detectives said they also found the "Stupid Stick."

Simons is facing multiple charges, including aggravated abuse of a disabled adult, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a firearm and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is also facing charges for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The Department of Children and Families is also investigating.

Simons was hired as a deputy sheriff on May 6, 1985, according to a sheriff's office spokesperson. He was terminated on September 28, 1988 due to an arrest on robbery and kidnapping charges. He was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.Neighbors like Michael Zelenick are stunned.

"I was under the impression he was a former police officer so I was like “oh that’s good to have down the street when you have kids and everything," he said.

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