Couple charged in 'torture' abuse case that left 5-year-old boy with 46 visible injuries

A 5-year-old boy whose skull was fractured when his mother's live-in boyfriend struck him with a mop handle, breaking it in half, has been beaten, neglected, and tortured repeatedly, the Volusia Sheriff's Office revealed on Saturday.

Investigators discovered video surveillance from inside the DeLand-area home revealing the child once had his hands tied behind his back for more than 19 hours. Doctors examining him found, in addition to the skull fracture, 46 visible injuries as well as internal injuries, Volusia Sheriff's spokesman Andrew Gant said in a news release.

There were three children in the home, including an 8-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.

"The torture these kids endured is hard to imagine. The good news is they're in safe hands now, and their scumbag abusers will have to answer for what they did," Sheriff Mike Chitwood wrote in a Facebook post Saturday.

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Shawn M. Stone, 32, has been in custody since May 9. In addition to one count of aggravated child abuse, he was charged on Friday with 23 other counts of abuse and neglect.

The boyfriend, Shawn M. Stone, 32, has been in custody since May 9. In addition to one count of aggravated child abuse, he was charged on Friday with 23 other abuse-and-neglect-related counts.

Jail records show Stone is facing 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 of failing to report suspected child abuse; two counts of false imprisonment of a child under 13; and two counts of tampering with a witness in a life felony proceeding.

He is being held without bond.

Meanwhile, the mother, Taylor B. Schaefer, 28, is facing 25 charges after investigators said she repeatedly witnessed abuse and failed to stop or report it. She has yet to be located by authorities, Gant said.

Schaefer called 911 after the mop handle incident, saying she had a “gut feeling” that Stone was abusing the victim, then checked the video footage and confirmed it.

Taylor Schaefer

But investigators who watched hours of video found that she had been present in the house when the 5-year-old was being beaten, Gant said, while the mother also saw the boy visibly injured and limping, but did not provide medical attention.

"On the day that Schaefer did report the abuse, video showed her mopping up the area where the victim was beaten with the mop handle," Gant said.

The 5-year-old boy had been repeatedly bound for hours at a time. In one instance, his hands were tied behind his back at 6:43 p.m. one night, and left that way until 2:02 p.m. the following afternoon.

Shawn Stone

The victim had also been tied up and placed in a dog cage, Gant said, adding that a common form of punishment for him was food deprivation.

"Another child in the home was forced to drink boiling water, sprayed with boiling water, and beaten with several household objects," Gant said. "That child also witnessed the brutal abuse inflicted on the younger victim."

A third child victim in the house was not receiving proper nutrition or care for a serious medical condition, and also witnessed the constant abuse, Gant said.

Investigators' video evidence is backed up with text messages and witness interviews, Gant said.

All three children were removed from the home and placed in a "safe environment" on May 9, Gant said.

Chitwood shared a Go-Fund-Me page to help the adults who are now caring for the children.

Glen Hobbs, the organizer of the page, has provided several updates on the children. All three have been released from the hospital, where they began eating regularly.

The 5-year-old will need a wheelchair and walker, and "has a long road to recovery," Hobbs said. The 8-year-old girl is eating well, while the oldest boy "is in good spirits and looks healthy."

The Go-Fund-Me had raised more than $8,000 of a $20,000 goal as of late Saturday afternoon.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: DeLand-area couple facing a combined 49 charges of abuse