OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - Two people have been arrested in Okeechobee County after investigators found two children -- one with a broken leg and fractured ribs -- in a vehicle with them, a release states.
Dionicio Rodriguez, 32, and Carla Camargo, 27, face several charges including aggravated child abuse.
The Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office said on June 22, 2011, they received an anonymous call saying Rodriguez had requested a Hispanic male child, between the age of 18 months and 3-years-old, that was in good health.
Investigators were told Rodriguez requested that because he knew the Florida Department of Children and Families was coming to investigate suspected child abuse and he wanted to hide the fact that the two-year-old was injured.
"[Rodriguez] told us that [boy] fell off the bunk bed, and that they did take him to the ER," a neighbor said."Then, when we talked to the DCF woman, she said, she checked the medical records, and they had never taken them at all.
A neighbor, who would like to remain unnamed, said the couple hid the injuries from DCF before. "I already had known of them introducing two kids that were not theirs to DCF because they came back from that and said 'Oh we're in the clear. We got away with it,'" the neighbor said.
Later, when investigators stopped a car that Rodriguez was driving, they found a 2-year-old child who was later determined to have six fractured ribs and a femur, or upper leg bone, that was broken in half. A 5-year-old girl had a bruise on her arm. The children weren't in car seats.
Both children were taken into custody and to the hospital.
"These children have experienced this their entire life," OCSO Undersheriff Noel Stephen said. "One day is too long, the little boy is probably (dealing with it) everyday of his life."
The five-year-old girl suffered a bruise in her left arm, according to authorities. "When asked how she sustained the bruise, detectives were told that '(Rodriguez) was mad and had punched her because she didn't tell him the (state Department of Children and Families) lady was at the door,' "the release states.
The neighbor said she had been hearing the children crying and commotion at the house since February.
"[The two-year-old] would cry all day and all night and then they'd whoop him for crying," she said.
After hearing it the neighbor said she had to tell DCF because she knew things were getting too dangerous especially for the little boy.
"His clothes would always be too big because he's only 18 pounds and he was about to turn three," she said."You'd see him outside and his pants would fall down and you'd see his (behind) was black and blue."
She said she wishes she would've done something earlier, but is glad the authorities were able to arrest the couple when they did.
"If I would've waited any longer he probably would be dead," she said about the little boy. "And what saved (the 5-year-old girl's) life is going to day care. If she was home all day she probably would've had the same amount of broken bones as him."
Rodriguez was charged with aggravated child abuse/neglect, aggravated child abuse (malicious punishment) and driving while license revoked with knowledge.
Camargo was charged with aggravated child abuse/neglect, but investigators say more charges are pending in this case and the investigation is ongoing.