Johanna Castellanos of Fort Lauderdale, Florida was arrested Wednesday after she was accused of forcing her 8-year-old son’s palms over a burning stovetop as a form of punishment, news sources indicate. Castellanos, 31, was booked into the Broward County Main Jail on one charge of cruelty towards a child with infliction of physical and mental injury. Her bail bond was set at $1,000. It is not yet known whether Castellanos has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
Reports say the incident began when the boy dozed off while doing chores. He apparently began to walk in his sleep and wandered into a nearby door, which woke his sleeping mother. When she saw he was sleepwalking, the mother allegedly whipped him in his right side with a belt in an attempt to rouse him, reports say. Then, as punishment, the mother purportedly led the boy into the kitchen, where she allegedly forced him to place his palms over an oven burner.
The next day, the child reported the alleged abuse to his school’s therapist, reports indicate. School staff reportedly found a contusion on the boy’s right leg where his mother allegedly hit him along with inflammation to his hands. The school reported the abuse to police. A medical team evaluated the boy and purportedly established that he had been the victim of mistreatment.
Castellanos was subsequently taken into custody. A judge has ordered that Castellanos has no contact with her son for the time being, and that she wear an ankle monitor upon her release. It is unclear who holds custody of the child at this time.
Castellanos was not the only Florida resident accused of child-related crimes. A Polk County, Florida girl, a minor herself at 14 years of age, was arrested Thursday after she allegedly birthed a baby in secret, killed him, and hid him away in her closet, reports indicate. The girl, whose identity was withheld in public reports, was booked into the Polk County Juvenile Detention Facility. It is not clear whether her family has retained legal representation.
In the months leading up to the birth, reports say the teen hid her pregnancy by wearing baggy clothes. It was purportedly her intention to keep the pregnancy a secret because she was afraid of what would happen if her parents found out, sources say. While in her home, the girl would drape bed covers over herself to mask the pregnancy.
The girl eventually went into labor and reportedly locked herself in her bathroom, covered the door with a towel, and started a bath so no one could hear her, reports say. It is unclear how long the labor lasted, but the girl gave birth to a full-term baby boy who measured 20 inches in length and weighed 9.5 pounds, sources indicate. Reports say the girl later told authorities that she picked the infant up and choked him until his heart stopped beating. She then allegedly washed up the bathroom and cleaned herself and the infant’s body before hiding the cadaver in a shoebox in her closet.
The mother, while investigating a nasty smell in the girl’s room, discovered the body. . The mother later told police that relatives suspected her daughter was pregnant, but she reportedly had the girl take two separate pregnancy tests, both of which returned negative. The girl is now suspected to have manipulated the tests.