Family of suspect accused of beating teen with autism says they fear for their lives

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - Protestors took to the streets of Okeechobee Friday to show their outrage over a 16-year-old with autism beaten in a video posted to social media.

Okeechobee Police arrested Andrew Wheeler and charged him with child abuse in connection with the incident that allegedly happened Friday August 8.

According to family members, the victim is Aaron Hill and he is on the autism spectrum.

Police also arrested Evadean Dailey Lydecker who was allegedly in the home where the alleged beating happened. Police say Lydecker knew the teenagers were drinking alcohol.

"Not only was Aaron beaten, he was left outside in the road. I can't even stand to watch the video," the victim's sister Brittany Hill said.

Hill says it is her mission now to educate others about child with disabilities and to make sure no one else is hurt the way her brother was.

But she says she does not think her brother was specifically targeted because he is autistic.

"He just wants to fit in like all the other disabled kids," Hill said.

On social media, some made allegations against the Okeechobee Police claiming the arrests were delayed.

But Police Chief Denny Davis says his department began reacting to the video the moment they saw it.

"I think the video is disgusting. It is just as upsetting to myself and my officers as it is to anyone else that viewed it. Absolutely no way would we ever attempt to cover up anything like that. So its very disturbing," Davis said.

The suspect's family told WPTV they are in hiding because of multiple death threats.

Wheeler's grandmother spoke to WPTV, but did not want her name used because she says she fears for her life.

"My daughters have come to stay with me because we are afraid. They are putting our addresses and names and everything on Facebook and people are saying they are going to kill our family," the grandmother said.

She also said the family decided not to bond Wheeler out because they fear someone will hurt or kill him.

"He would never target a child with autism...he wrote an apology letter to the boy and his mother and turned himself in," the grandmother said.

By Friday evening, a support page for the victim grew to over 20,000 likes on Facebook.

"We want to make sure everyone is aware of what is going on. The bullying in this town, the underage drinking, and the parents condoning it," Brittany Hill said.

When asked what the police chief thought about the other people in the video watching the video, he responded: "I think anybody who viewed that had a responsibly to stop it."

The chief says there could be more arrests.

Related stories:
Social media showing support for Aaron Hill
Family of beating suspect says they are in fear
2 arrested in beating of teen with autism
 


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