saved by a sign | 

Stepdad is jailed for life for torturing boy who was rescued by waitress

“Police said the boy's parents subjected him to various forms of abuse, including forcing him to do 30-minute planks and beating him if he failed”

Timothy Lee Wilson (l) and Kristen Swann

Flaviane Carvalho and the sign she created asking the boy did he need help

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

A waitress who famously saved a boy by showing him a sign reading 'Do you need help?’ said she was pleased after a court imposed multiple life sentences on his stepdad who had tortured the 11-year-old.

An Orlando judge told Timothy Lee Wilson (36) he had utterly failed, “not only in the role of parent, but simply in the role of human being,” after he was convicted in June on charges of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child abuse with a weapon, child neglect, and false imprisonment.

During sentencing last week, Judge Wayne C. Wooten said: “For those reasons I'm going to impose the sentence that he law allows me to impose, although candidly, in many ways, I feel like it is short of what you thoroughly and richly deserve.”

Flaviane Carvalho was the waitress who saved the boy by secretly showing him a sign asking him did he need help when Wilson and his family sat down at the Mrs. Potato Head restaurant in Orlando, on New Year's Day, 2021.

Her suspicions were raised when they did not order food for the boy.

Wilson told Carvalho that the boy would eat dinner at home, but she noticed that the boy had bruises over his face and arms.

“I could see he had a big scratch between his eyebrows,” Carvalho said at a press conference in 2021. “A couple of minutes later, I saw a bruise on the side of his eye. So I felt there was something really wrong.”

After holding up an initial sign out of Wilson’s view the boy initially indicated he was okay, but when Carvalho tried a second time he indicated that he needed help.

“I wrote another sign, asking him if he needs help. And this is when he nodded, yes,” Carvalho said. She then conferred with her manager, who agreed she should call police.

In audio released by police from her phone call, Carvalho said, “I'm super concerned and I don't know what to do, can you give me some advice? What I can do?

“The boy is with bruises and he's not eating. The others are eating.”

Officers arrived on the scene and interviewed the parents and the child, who was said to have winced in pain when asked to roll up the sleeves of his sweatshirt, because of the bruises on his arms.

The boy was taken to the hospital where doctors discovered that he was 20lb underweight and had extensive bruising covering most of his body.

Police said the boy's parents subjected him to various forms of abuse, including forcing him to do 30-minute planks and beating him if he failed.

At a press conference, a police spokesperson said: “What this child had gone through, it was torture.

“Seeing what that 11-year-old had to go through, it shocks your soul.”

The boy told police that ratchet straps were tied around his ankles and neck, and he was hung upside down from a door on one occasion.

Flaviane Carvalho and the sign she created asking the boy did he need help

He said he was hit with a wooden broom and handcuffed and didn’t get to eat on a regular basis as punishment.

After his rescue the boy was taken into the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families, along with his four-year-old sister who appeared unharmed.

The biological mother of the boy, Kristen Swann, said she knew the abuse was taking place and also faces neglect charges. During a hearing last week a judge accepted her plea and scheduled her sentencing for September 16.

“If Ms Carvalho would not have said something when she saw it, that little boy would probably not be with us, much longer,” said Special Victims Unit Detective Erin Lawler.

Carvalho has since become an outspoken advocate for child abuse prevention.

Speaking to, she pleaded the importance that anybody who sees something they think might be abuse should say something about it.

“I feel relieved and with a sense of justice gratitude that he got what he deserved," Cavalho told “I also feel happy because the best thing is that the boy now lives a healthy life, protected and receiving a lot of love, affection, care and respect.”

Cavalho said the boy has been reunited with his biological father.

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