WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A 14-year-old boy whose parents have been accused of locking him up inside a small structure in the family's garage demonstrated "longstanding dangerous and disturbing propensities" toward other children and adults for several years, an attorney for the couple said in a recent court filing.
Defense attorney Nellie King sent a letter to Jupiter police Detective Andrew Sharp and Assistant State Attorney Alexandra Dorman to inform them about "a number of issues you do not know" involving Timothy and Tracy Ferriter, who were arrested Tuesday on child abuse charges.
Jupiter police said the Ferriters forced their adopted son to live in an 8-foot by 8-foot structure in the couple's garage — located in the 200 block of Crane Point North in the Egret Landing community — since at least 2017.
The structure had a mattress, desk and chair, bucket for the teenager to use the bathroom and a Ring camera mounted above the mattress.
Police said the teen was able to attend school but was locked up during the remainder of the day while at home.
In her redacted letter, King advised of the "longstanding dangerous and disturbing propensities" that the teen has exhibited in "multiple schools, neighborhoods, and homes towards other children and adults over the course of a number of years."
She wrote of the teen's various attacks to an unspecified female, one of which led to hospitalization.
As the years went by, King wrote, the teen "tortured animals" and yelled in class that the Holocaust "was a good thing" and that "all immigrants are drug dealers."
King said the child "searched disturbing ways for girls to die" and "stole anything he could get his hands on, including numerous school tablets, money from another student's house" and "money from the collection plate at church."
As the boy got older, King wrote, "his schemes got progressively more disturbing, more violent."
King said there were "referrals from school teachers too numerous to count and from multiple school districts." She claimed the teen has been "sanctioned by school administrators for punching, cursing, stealing, destroying school property, putting a classmate against a wall while jabbing his finger and thumb into the boy's windpipe, breaking and entering into school buildings and lying constantly when he was caught by teachers for his misconduct."
Just last month at Independence Middle School, King claimed, the child "started at his new school by impersonating a school evaluator, secretly recording other students, stealing phones, credit cards and cash."
King added that the boy "brings knives and weapons to school, draws pictures of guns and artillery fire, roams the house terrorizing others at night and fantasizes about killing people."
In court Wednesday, King told a Palm Beach County judge that the teen had reactive attachment disorder, a condition in which a child doesn't form a healthy emotional bond with his or her caretakers.
The Ferriters recently moved back to Jupiter after living in Arizona for four years.
Jennifer Trefelner, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Palm Beach, told WPTV that Tracy Ferriter worked as an aide at All Saints Catholic School from March 2014 until June 2017.
Three other children who lived in the home were removed by the Florida Department of Children and Families.
"The treatment this child has endured is appalling on many accounts, and the allegations are both heinous and evil," DCF spokeswoman Paige Patterson-Hughes said in a statement. "Our department is committed to making sure no child has to endure the terrible things that have been told to investigators. We hope the judicial system will act swiftly to deliver justice for this child."