JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An Arlington couple was arrested Wednesday morning after police said they tied up and gagged a child. Sources say the child is a 4-year-old girl.
Bacarius Burt, 37, is charged with child neglect without great bodily harm and Tameka Williams, 27, the girl's mother, is charged with child abuse with intentional infliction of physical or mental injury.
Jacksonville police said they were called to a Food Mart on Arlington Road just after 10 a.m. Wednesday, where a complainant told them the couple tied up and gagged the child last Friday.
According to a police report, an officer contacted the suspects and the child and noticed "multiple lines that appeared to be scabbed over on the victim's mouth, arms, wrists and body."
According to sources, the girl was tied up as a punishment for wetting her pants.
A friend of the mother who wanted to remain anonymous said what she saw was horrifying.
"She had marks everywhere, marks everywhere, on her face, around her neck, on her body, her legs," she said. "He really, really messed her up."
The child was taken to Wolfson Children's Hospital, where a doctor told police there was evidence of trauma to the child's buttocks area.
Neighbors in the family's Arlington neighborhood said they watched as the injured girl was taken from her home, and were disgusted by the charges against the couple.
"What happened is just grotesque and unacceptable and that man can spend rest of his life in prison," said Trey Call.
"That man does not need to be around, but I feel so bad for that little baby. I saw her get taken to the hospital," said Erin Johnson.
The friend of the mother said Williams didn't seem like someone who would commit such abuse. However, she said she's noticed a change in the mom's behavior in recent days. She also told Channel 4 she was not sure how long the abuse had been going on.
"I don't know if it was regular, but it looked like her marks on her, it looked like she was did like that everyday," said the woman.
The police report said Williams was "rationing" toilet paper. The report also said the girl "was afraid to ask for toilet paper to use the restroom."
Police said there are three other children who live at the home. Neighbors said the children are with relatives. Both suspects were arrested and booked into the Duval County jail.
The Department of Children and Family Services is investigating.
"The children are currently hospitalized, including 4-year-old and a 7-year-old with previous abuse. Two others who are with family. We will be filing a petition with the courts to put those children in our custody," said DCF's John Harrell.
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