SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Documents from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office show at least one allegation of child abuse was made against the parents of 12-year-old Eduardo Posso, who died in Indiana in what investigators called a case of “extreme abuse.”
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office previously investigated a case of alleged child abuse that was filed in November 2018 while the family was still living in Myakka City. In that instance, Eduardo had a small bruise on his face.
Investigators spoke to Eduardo, his 9-year-old sister, and his father, 32-year-old Luis Posso Jr., and his stepmother, 25-year-old Dayan Median Flores. Documents show that all four told investigators the same thing: that Eduardo was injured while practicing juggling and that discipline in the home consists of no TV/candy and the occasional spanking. The case was closed as unfounded. Below is a picture of Eduardo, taken at the time of the investigation:
The Department of Children and Families, which conducted separate investigations into the family, is not releasing their files at this time.
Luis Posso and his wife are in jail in Bloomington, Indiana, where they’re charged with causing their son’s death.
A release from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Bloomington, Indiana says they were called to the Bloomington Hospital Friday, May 24 to investigate after a 12-year-old Eduardo died and doctors found multiple signs of extreme abuse and starvation.
Eduardo had been brought to the hospital by his father at 2:52am and declared deceased at 3:05am.
After obtaining a search warrant, detectives went to the motel room where Eduardo had been staying with his parents, along with his siblings, his 9-year-old sister and two stepbrothers, ages 2 and 5.
Inside, detectives say they found a box of restraints, including wrist and ankle restraints and chains, as well as a dog shock collar and a security system. According to the sheriff's office, cellphones found during the search had a video showing Eduardo being restrained in a bathtub with the dog shock collar on his neck and a "selfie" photo of Luis Posso with Eduardo while the boy was under restraints.
"The other children seem to be in relatively good health. The indication seems to be that this young man, Eduardo, lived a very sad life, a lot of times under restraint, and his life gradually diminished after repeated acts of abuse," said Sheriff Brad Swain. "The initial thoughts are the child starved to death."
Detectives interviewed both parents and say they denied withholding food from Eduardo, but say Luis Posso admitted physically abusing Eduardo and Flores told detectives that Luis Posso abused the boy and used restraints on him. Detectives say Luis Posso did not admit to using the restraints. Both parents told detectives that Eduardo "acted up the most" and that they had issues with him.
The sheriff’s office says Luis Posso and his wife were contract employees for a company that works to promote a traveling circus that tours around the United States, distributing advertising, and that they were in Monroe County for their job. Detectives say they arrived in the area the Monday before Eduardo died.
Flyers for Cirque Italia, which is based here in Sarasota, were found in the couple’s motel room. ABC7 spoke to the owner, Manuel Rebecchi, who says the couple worked for an outside company the circus had hired for promotion. He says he did not know and never met the couple.
“Who they hire under them to do flyers, I do not have any control. I don’t know who does it. My business is to make sure the flyers are getting delivered with a coupon ticket for the opening night. And so far, with this company which I’ve worked with for over a year and a half, I’ve never had a problem," Rebecchi said.
Both Luis Posso and his wife are being held in the Monroe County Correctional Center on $500,000 bail each on charges of three counts of neglect and one count of confinement. Luis Posso is additionally charged with domestic battery.
The sheriff’s office says their investigation will likely include several jurisdictions over a long period of time, possibly the last year, and more charges are possible. An autopsy is being conducted to determine Eduardo’s exact cause of death.
A preliminary examination by a forensic pathologist found Eduardo had zero percent body fat and weighed between 50-55 pounds. The pathologist says he had bruises all over his body. Detectives say based on photos they have in evidence, they believe the abuse had been going on for around a year.
Their other children have been placed in the care of Child Protection Services. The sheriff’s office says they appear to be healthy.
Sheriff Swain says they spoke to Flores’ family members and says CPS had some involvement with the family in Florida, but could not disclose the nature of the involvement. Detectives say the family appeared surprised to learn that Luis Posso and his wife had pulled their children from school and were no longer living in Florida.
Manatee County Schools says Eduardo previously attended and withdrew in December 2018. After news of his death broke, Myakka City Elementary made parents aware so they can handle any concerns their children may have.
Jasleen Consuegra lived next door to Luis Posso and his wife. She said, "I don’t know how they were capable of doing that to their son. He’s not an animal; he’s a human being, why treat your own son like a slave? That’s just very wrong."
Consuegra says she never would have suspected this was going on because the parents acted normal around her and her children. She tells us Eduardo was always wearing a jacket.
“It’s very sad, to be honest, I never thought they were capable of doing that. It really breaks my heart,” said Consuegra.
It’s unclear when the family left Florida and the sheriff’s office says they’re still investigating all of the places they traveled.