JUPITER, Fla. — A Jupiter couple has been arrested on aggravated child abuse charges after they physically abused and forcibly confined their adopted 13-year-old to live within a garage structure, police said.
According to Jupiter police, detectives were called to a residence in the 200 block of Crane Point North in the Egret Landing community on Jan. 30 regarding a follow-up investigation about a 13-year-old missing runaway.
It's unclear who reported the child missing and for how long the child had been missing.
Police said the mother, Tracy Ferriter, allowed one detective in the home. While the detective was in the residence, he noticed an 8-foot by 8-foot structure within the garage that was described by the mother as a small office.
During the investigation, detectives noticed the structure had a doorknob and a deadbolt, both locking from the outside, as well as a light switch also on the outside.
Detectives also found a camera, a mattress and a bucket inside the structure.
The missing teen was located the next day at school and detectives were able to conduct interviews with the child.
During the investigation, detectives determined the teen's adoptive parents, Tracy and Timothy Ferriter, both 46, had been physically abusing and forcibly confining the teen to live within the garage structure since at least 2017.
According to detectives, the teen was able to attend school but was confined to the structure during the remainder of the day when meals were brought to the child and a bucket was provided for bathroom use.
Aric Preisendorf, who used to live next door to the Ferriters, said he would see the kids playing in the street.
"We've been here for a while now, since 2007," he said. "So, knew them. Can't say we knew them well. They kind of kept to themselves. But, yeah, it's weird and crazy news."
Preisendorf said he even saw a structure in the garage.
"Three-car garage," he said. "On the single-car garage was where there was a room built in there, but never went in the house or in the garage. Just could see it from the outside."
The couple was arrested on aggravated child abuse charges and booked into the Palm Beach County jail.
Three other children who were living in the home were removed by child protection services, police said.
The investigation is ongoing.