OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Two parents are facing murder charges as of Wednesday in connection with the death of their 6-year-old child and the abuse of their five other children in Osceola County.
At a news briefing, Sheriff Marcos Lopez detailed “one of the worst child abuse cases in the history of Osceola County, any of us up here have ever seen.”
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Larry Rhodes, 22, and his girlfriend Bianca Blaise, 25, were originally arrested in July on child neglect charges when a child in their care was found unconscious with their head in the toilet at a Kissimmee hotel, according to deputies.
Lopez said Blaise called 911 and told them her son was trying to drink water from the toilet and drowned.
Upon arrival, investigators said they found eight people in the hotel room, including Rhodes, Blaise and six children ranging from 6 years old to a baby less than 1-year-old.
A charging affidavit shows the child’s head was in the toilet and he did not have a pulse and was not breathing, so CPR was administered and the the child was taken to a hospital with a a life-threatening brain bleed.
Lopez said two of the other children, a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old, told officers that Blaise and Rhodes saw the boy’s head in the toilet, then began beating the boy, hitting him with closed fists.
The 6-year-old was taken to the hospital, where it was determined he was suffering from a brain bleed and a lacerated liver, according to Lopez.
“Maybe he was thirsty. He went to the toilet. He was trying to survive,” he said. “Mama caught him and the poor guy paid the price.”
Other children in the room also had multiple bruises, and one had hemorrhaging to his left eyeball, according to the affidavit.
The sheriff’s office said all the children were taken to a hospital for treatment and are now in foster care.
A search of the room revealed several swabs of suspected blood and two guns with multiple magazines, deputies said. Blaise also had described to investigators how she and Rhodes disciplined the children, which included giving them “whoopings” and forcing them to stand in the corner and perform exercises.
Blaise and Rhodes are both facing first-degree murder and child abuse and neglect charges. They are being held without bond.
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