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Tracy Ferriter, mother of Jupiter teen locked in box-like room, pleads guilty

Ferriter, 48, to serve 10 years probation in high-profile child abuse and neglect case
Tracy Ferriter leaves a Palm Beach County courtroom after pleading guilty on June 24, 2024.
Posted at 10:27 AM, Jun 24, 2024

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Jupiter mother accused of locking her adopted teenage son in a box-like structure in the garage of their home pleaded guilty on Monday morning.

Tracy Ferriter, 48, pleaded guilty to felony charges of aggravated child abuse, false imprisonment and child neglect and will serve 10 years probation and a year of house arrest.

"Are you doing everything this morning freely and voluntarily," Circuit Court Judge Howard Coates asked Ferriter in court on Monday.

"Yes," Ferriter replied.

Ferriter and her husband, Tim Ferriter, were arrested by Jupiter police in February of 2022, shortly after their teen son ran away from home.

Timothy and Tracy Ferriter arrest photos
Timothy and Tracy Ferriter are accused of keeping their adopted 14-year-old son locked in a box in the family's garage.

After pleading guilty, Tracy Ferriter shared whether or not she regretted the treatment of her son, who she said has reactive attachment disorder (RAD) which can lead to frequent violent outbursts.

"We were living a life that's not what is portrayed in the media," a tearful Tracy Ferriter said. "There was a lot of things that nobody knew. We were a completely loving family. I love my kids. We just tried to do the best that we could with what we had."

Defense attorney Marc Shiner said his client pleaded guilty to "put some peace for her family."

"It was a completely different case than what was presented through her husband's case," Shiner said. "Even though she had a very good chance of being exonerated, she really wanted to put this to rest so her children could have some peace."

Shiner said he wanted the public to know his client isn't "a monster" and hoped the case will shine a light on RAD.

WATCH BELOW: Tracy Ferriter and her attorney speak about guilty plea

Tracy Ferriter, attorneys explain why she pleaded guilty

"This is a human being that is extremely educated, loving [and who] adopted children out of the goodness of her heart," Shiner said.

Prosecutors said the couple kept their son in a 8x8 windowless room in the garage of the Egret Landing home. Inside were a mattress, a desk, and a bucket which the boy used to go to the bathroom.

The teen would be allowed out of the locked room only to go to school and occasionally to eat dinner with his family, according to prosecutors.

Tim Ferriter, was convicted in October on charges of child abuse, child neglect, and false imprisonment. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Tim Ferriter smirks through tears at sentencing hearing, Nov. 16, 2023


Tim Ferriter leaves county jail, heads to prison

Peter Burke
4:39 PM, Jan 24, 2024

Ferriter's defense team argued the Ferriters were not child abusers, but instead made a poor parenting decision in disciplining the teenager for his repeated history of bad behavior, leading the couple to confine the boy to an 8x8 custom-made room.

Under Tracy Ferriter's plea agreement, she will not serve any jail time. She does, however, have to complete 300 hours of community service, must undergo a mental health evaluation, must take anger management and parenting classes, and cannot have any contact with her husband or the victim in this case.

At the hearing, the judge said that Tracy Ferriter could also transfer her probation to Chicago where she is attempting to move.