A waitress in Orlando managed to get two children removed from an abusive household by writing a note to one of them during a meal.
Flavaine Carvalho picked up a New Year’s Day shift at the Mrs. Potato restaurant and noticed an 11-year-old boy was acting strangely at one of her tables. Upon closer inspection, she saw that the boy wasn't being fed and had visible bruises and lacerations on his body.
"I just thought I need to do something," Carvalho told CNN. "I could not see him go away without any help.”
The waitress held up notes behind the child’s stepfather and mother, asking if he was okay and if he needed help. Convinced that the child was in trouble, Carvalho called the police.
“One of the kids is with a lot of bruises on his arms and on his face and the parent is not giving food for him but is giving to the other kids that are with them," she explained to a dispatcher, per CNN. "I'm super concerned and I don't know what to do. Can you give me some advice?"
Police arrived at the restaurant and interviewed the children and their family. The boy’s stepfather, Thomas Wilson II, was taken into custody on charges of neglect and aggravated child abuse.
The underweight child said he was regularly denied food as a punishment and told police that he was sometimes beaten with a broom or hung upside down from a door by Wilson. When his mother, Kristen Swann, was interviewed by police and revealed her knowledge of the abuse, she was arrested on two counts of neglect.
"We probably would have been talking about a potential homicide investigation if she had not intervened when she did,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon shared in a press conference.