CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - For the first time, WINK News is hearing from a family member of an abused 10-year-old Port Charlotte boy.
She said her nephew would not have lived through the summer if his parents weren't arrested after allegedly leaving him locked in his room, with little food, and his own urine and feces everywhere.
That little boy was taken out of his father and step-mothers home this weekend - something the boy's aunt says should've happened months ago.
"I don't think he would've lived through the summer had he not had the instinct to hide - it was out of pure fear and survival that he hid."
Laura Tywater is the boy's aunt. She said in December her mother called the Department of Children and Families to tell them her grandson was being abused in his home.
"My mother was the one that saw everything first hand."
What did she see?"
"An absolute barren bedroom, no lights, a mattress - a bare mattress, no blankets, no covers, no sheets. I think prisoners get better treatment than that."
Reports said the 10-year-old was only let out to go to school. He was forced to go to the bathroom in his room and sleep in it, and as punishment - his face was rubbed in his urine and feces.
Deputies said his father, Thomas Boone, and step-mother, Kimberly Boone, only fed him peanut butter sandwiches and water. Tywater said her nephew told her he drank out of the toilet - too afraid to make noise by turning the faucet on.
"He was 50 pounds. He's a 10-year-old boy."
Her question to DCF - why did it take nearly 7 months for the child to be removed from the home, only after he was reported missing?
"It's heartbreaking. It's protecting almost the parents as opposed to the child who was the one who needed the voice and needed the protection."
DCF is still investigating this case and will not comment on why it took so long to get this boy out of the home.