A story that could be made into a Hollywood thriller has reached a fitting conclusion today.

Timothy Lee Wilson,36, a Florida man was handed multiple life sentences for torturing his 11-year-old stepson, who was rescued on new year’s day after a waitress secretly showed the boy a sign asking if he needed help. 

Wilson was convicted of charges of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child abuse with a weapon, child neglect, and false imprisonment in June and was sentenced to multiple life sentences on Wednesday, August 24. Meanwhile, his wife, the biological mother of the child, Kristen Swann who was aware of the abuse, will face neglect charges. Her sentencing is scheduled for September 16, 2022. 

On New Year’s Day last year, Wilson, 36, visited Mrs Potato Restaurant in Orlando with his family. Flaviane Carvalho, a waitress at the eatery, noticed while serving food to them that no food had been ordered for their little boy. She also noticed that the child had a number of scratches and bruises on his face and arms.

The hero waitress quickly wrote a note reading “Do you need help?” and showed it to the child, 11, as she stood behind his parents, who knew nothing about it. As the child nodded ‘yes’, she dialed 911. “I’m super concerned and I don’t know what to do, can you give me some advice?” Carvalho asked the dispatcher, according to WFLA. “The boy is with bruises and he’s not eating.” 

Investigators went on to find that the child was being tortured and abused by his stepdad, Wilson. On one occasion, he was hung upside down from a door on Christmas Day and handcuffed to a dolly. 

Besides Wilson, the boy’s mother, Kristin Swann, admitted that she knew about the abuse and torture being inflicted on her child, but did not act. She has also reportedly been arrested and charged with two counts of child neglect. The victim and his sister, 4, were removed from the parents’ custody. His sister had not been abused. 

Officials appreciated Carvalho, saying she may have saved the boy’s life. “We probably would’ve been talking about a potential homicide investigation if she [Carvalho] had not intervened when she did,” Orlando Chief of Police Orlando Rolón said last year. At the time, a GoFundMe was set up for Carvalho after the news of her heroism surfaced. $46,710 USD had been raised of the $10,000 goal at the time this article was written.

“Mrs Potato Restaurant has received innumerous messages and calls from people wanting to Support and Reward our hero, Flaviane Carvalho. This account was set up in order concentrate all the donations made on her behalf. Flaviane, from Orlando FL, wrote ‘Do you need help? Ok’ on a piece of paper and showed it to the child in question after she noticed his family was withholding food from him, and prohibiting him from ordering anything to eat at Mrs Potato restaurant, on New Year’s Day. Carvalho stood behind the boy’s parents so they wouldn’t see her, then held up the note asking him if he needed help. He signaled yes, prompting her to dial 911. Orlando Police interviewed the youngster, who detailed the alleged torture he’d endured,” the page reads.

“The outcome of this story was only possible because of her act of kindness, compassion and how fearlessly she stood up for this child. The purpose of this Gofundme is to reward Flaviane for taking a stand and speaking up. Kindness is not something that necessarily needs to be rewarded. That being said, any support will always be welcomed and greatly appreciated, especially for someone that works in one of the industries most affected by the pandemic, restaurants. “Courage is not living without fear, courage is being scared to death and doing the right thing anyway,” it adds.