OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - A 6-year-old boy who was on life support after being beaten by his parents for reportedly drinking water from a toilet bowl at a Kissimmee motel in July has died, and his parents are now facing murder and several other charges, Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez announced during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
According to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, on July 5, deputies responded to the Knights Inn on West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway for a reported drowning after the child's mother, Bianca Blaise, 25, called 911 saying her son was found with his head in the toilet, and at some point, became unconscious.
When deputies arrived at the motel room where the family lived, they found the child in the arms of his 22-year-old father, Larry Rhodes Jr., Blaise and five other children ranging in age from 5 years old to 10 months old.
Pictured from left to right: Larry Rhodes Jr. & Bianca Blaise (Photos via Osceola County Sheriff's Office)
Blaise initially told investigators she walked into the bathroom and found the child with his head in the toilet and told her child to go to a corner near the hotel room's front door. Shortly after, she said she heard Rhodes yell and heard three "claps," an arrest report stated. When she left the bathroom, she reportedly found the child lying on the floor with Rhodes standing nearby.
However, Lopez told reporters the parents became angry with the boy because he was drinking from the toilet and began to beat him. "She was lying from the beginning saying this child drowned in a toilet. I mean it's just physically impossible," Lopez said.
The mother reportedly beat him first, and then the father repeatedly punched him multiple times to the head and stomach area.
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The sheriff said the boy was rushed to a hospital with a brain bleed and a lacerated liver and died a few days later. The medical examiner confirmed the child died by blunt force trauma. At the time of the incident, Blaise and Rhodes were arrested on child neglect charges. Lopez said they now face murder.
View the full news conference below:
"The little boy was our primary focus when we first arrived on scene, however it was immediately clear that the other children in the hotel room were also the victims of child abuse," Lopez said. "You could tell they were abused simply by looking at them." They appeared to be malnourished and had bruises that were consistent with being hit with a shoe, he added.
Inside the hotel room, investigators found blood on the bottom of a shoe and throughout the room. Blood splatter was also found in a corner where the mother said the children were made to "stand with their noses in the corner as punishment," an arrest report stated.
The State Attorney's Office also charged the couple with aggravated manslaughter of a child, aggravated child abuse and five counts of child neglect.
"These people are savages. I just can't think – the 10-month-old was already on the same path. Was he going to make it to 6," Lopez said.
The children have since been placed in foster care and are doing well.