A Volusia County woman employed by an organization that protects children and ensures they have a stable family life is wanted by police for allowing her boyfriend to severely beat her 5-year-old son in her home, resulting in injuries that included a fractured skull, the sheriff's office said.
Taylor Schaefer, 28, whom detectives said is an employee of Community Partnership for Children, is facing aggravated child abuse and 24 other charges stemming from repeated acts of abuse and child neglect, sheriff's investigators said.
Community Partnership for Children is a community-based care lead agency contracted with the Department of Children and Families, its website says. The group's mission is to "to design, implement, and manage a quality child protection system for the citizens of Volusia, Flagler and Putnam Counties."
There were no indications in jail or court records Sunday that Schaefer, who previously worked as a prison corrections officer, according to sheriff's office investigative reports, had been located and arrested.
Schaefer's 5-Year-Old Son's Skull Fractured by Her Boyfriend for Wetting the Bed
Detectives started investigating Schaefer on May 9 after deputies were called to AdventHealth DeLand where Schaefer's 5-year-old son had been admitted with multiple injuries, including a fractured skull. The child had to be transferred to Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando because of the severity of his injuries, detectives said.
Her boyfriend, Shawn Stone, 32, a convicted felon, left the home on May 9 after beating the 5-year-old so hard with a mop that the head of the cleaning tool came off. Stone allegedly hit the child for wetting the bed. Deputies tracked him down later that day and arrested him.
He has since been held in the Volusia County Branch Jail without bail. The couple's charges include aggravated child abuse; child neglect; false imprisonment; failure to report child abuse; conspiracy to commit those crimes; and evidence and witness tampering.
Doctors Reported Multiple Previous Injuries Suffered as a Result of the Abuse
Doctors at the hospital discovered that the 5-year-old child had multiple previous injuries, broken bones and burn marks that were healing. In all, a nurse at the hospital discovered 46 visible injuries on the boy's body, including burns; busted lips; bruising to the eyes, arms, legs and nose bridge; and rib fractures that were healing.
The child had a limp, which his older brother would later tell investigators was because Stone hit the child a lot. "He got hit a lot in the legs a whole bunch of times," the boy's 9-year-old brother told investigators.
Schaefer Tried to Play a 'Victim'
On May 9, Schaefer called 911 to report that Stone had severely beaten her son. She told detectives that while on her way to a doctor's appointment in Orlando, she had a "gut feeling" that Stone was abusing her son, so she turned on the camera app on her phone and saw him beating her son with a mop stick.
Though detectives took Schaefer's initial statement of the incident, they started questioning Schaefer again so they could learn more about the child's multiple previous injuries and whether she knew how the child got them.
Schaefer became irritated and told detectives she already made a statement and didn't want to go over it again, reports indicate. In interviews with detectives, Schaefer said she hoped Stone would die in jail for what he did. But when she was questioned about the burn marks on the child, she acted like she was offended, detectives said.
"We're, we're really gonna keep doing this, OK because I'm also a victim," Schaefer is noted as saying in investigative reports. "And you guys are trying to play me out as someone that's participated in all."
Detectives: Schaefer Stood by and Watched the Abuse
Volusia County sheriff's detectives said Schaefer was present and stood by as her boyfriend, Stone, exacted the cruel punishments on her son. Detectives served a search warrant at Schaefer's home and seized camera recordings that revealed the heart-breaking punishment the child endured, investigative reports show.
Detectives obtained multiple recordings of the victim receiving beatings while Schaefer was present in the house, as well as several instances where he was visibly injured and limping in her presence, but received no care or medical attention, said sheriff's spokesman Andrew Gant.
On May 9 when Schaefer called to report that Stone had severely beaten the 5-year-old boy, she was seen on video mopping the spot where the child was physically abused, investigators said.
Video from the days leading up to the May 9 incident showed the 5-year-old victim was not only beaten, but repeatedly left with his hands bound behind his back for hours at a time, Gant said. In one incident, his hands were bound behind his back from 6:43 p.m. one evening until 2:02 p.m. the following day.
In addition to the abuse recorded on video, the victim was tied up and placed in a dog cage and often not fed. In an interview with officials from Child Protective Services, the boy's older sibling said the child only received water to drink in a straw pushed through an opening in the cage.
The older sibling also told investigators that his younger brother was only fed oatmeal and forbidden from having other foods. The 9-year-old was also the victim of Stone's abuse; he made the boy drink boiling water. Stone also put water in a boiling syringe and spayed his leg with it, the older sibling told investigators.
A GoFundMe account created for the children's medical expenses had raised more than $30,000 as of Sunday night.