Volusia couple faces litany of charges in ‘brutal pattern of child abuse,’ deputies say

Shawn Stone, Taylor Schaefer face dozens of counts

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A man who got arrested about a month ago in Volusia County after allegedly fracturing the skull of his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son with a mop faces 23 more counts “stemming from repeated acts of abuse and neglect,” according to a sheriff’s office news release that adds the man’s girlfriend — now accused of failing to intervene or report — faces 25 similar counts herself.

Shawn Stone, 32, was arrested May 9 after deputies responded to a DeLand hospital for reported child abuse. The 5-year-old’s mother, 28-year-old Taylor Schaefer, told deputies that Stone was responsible for her son’s injuries, which included bruises, cuts and cigarette burns. A “gut feeling” she’d allegedly experienced after leaving Stone at home with the boy prompted her to check the home’s security system, where she said she witnessed Stone’s reported abuse.

Three children were removed from the home and placed in others’ care as investigators got hold of the footage via a search warrant, according to the release. The videos showed multiple instances in which the 5-year-old received beatings while Schaefer was present and administered no care or medical attention even in situations where the boy “was visibly injured and limping in her presence,” the release states. The day she made the report which led to Stone’s arrest, she was seen mopping where her son had been beaten and the mop itself had broken, deputies said.

Videos from the days leading up to May 9 contain repeated examples of the boy being left with his hands bound behind his back, deputies said. In one instance, his hands were tied from 6:43 p.m. one evening to 2:02 p.m. the next day, according to the release. In another, the boy’s arms, legs, feet and torso were bound for at least an hour while Stone stood over him, the release states. Furthermore, at least one recording shows Schaefer enter the frame to tell the beaten child to stand up straight, deputies said, adding the beatings could be heard throughout the house regardless.

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Through interviews and recovered SMS conversations, detectives determined other children in the home watched as all were abused and/or neglected. While the 5-year-old was tied up, placed in a dog cage and repeatedly punished by being deprived of food, another child was sprayed with boiling water, forced to drink boiling water and beaten with household objects, deputies said. A third child in the home did not receive proper nutrition or care, the release states.

The ages of the two other children were described in a charging affidavit as being 7 and 9 years old.

Stone now faces eight counts of neglect of a child causing great bodily harm, five counts of aggravated child abuse, four counts of neglect of a child, three counts failing to report suspected child abuse, two counts of false imprisonment on a child under 13 years old and two counts of tampering with a witness in a proceeding that could result in a life sentence. He was charged while still in custody without bond.

Schaefer has not yet been located by the authorities, the release states.

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Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.