It was a frantic scene inside a home on Delft Road when 11-year-old Melissa Stoddard, who was autistic, was found unconscious.
Investigators say her father and stepmother, Kenneth and Misty Stoddard, admitted to using restraints to control her – hog-tying her arms to her legs, duct-taping her mouth, and binding her to a plywood board that she was forced to sleep on.
"That had holes drilled in it and has wooden blocks on the bottom of it. And that board at the time of the search warrant was found discarded across the road or in the trees," stated Capt. Jeff Bell of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.
The police report showed Ken Stoddard and his oldest son cut Melissa from the board before paramedics arrived, and ditched the board in the woods to hide it.
They told investigators the restraints were to protect Melissa from herself and the other siblings.
Kenneth Stoddard refused to appear in court for his first appearance Thursday.
Misty, who is pregnant, is in the hospital after police say she tried to kill herself after this unfolded.
Even though there were four other children in the house, neighbors say they never saw children playing outside.
"I didn't see children playing," Jane Miller said. "I saw the toys in the yard and felt there were kids there. But didn't really know them."
The other children, ranging from 4 to 15, are in protective custody. In the police report, one told investigators the night this happened, Melissa was fussing from her room. She saw Misty go in, pulling off strips of duct tape from the roll.
Results from the autopsy show Melissa died from lack of oxygen.
"I can't, in 30 years, I can't think of another case that it's been so blatant a child was mistreated. It just defies common sense," Bell added.
Kenneth Stoddard is being held without bond. Police say more charges could be coming.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?