By GRACE WONG
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Court TV) — The first day of trial has wrapped for the Florida father standing trial on charges he locked his adopted teenage son in a box in his garage for hours at a time.
Timothy Ferriter was indicted, along with his wife, Tracy Ferriter, in March 2022 on charges of aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment. Though the couple was initially charged together, their cases were severed at Timothy’s request, citing comments his wife made to police when he was not present.
Ferriter’s daughter, who is being referred to as FF, testified that he was a disciplinarian who treated his adopted son RF more harshly than his other children and exiled him to a windowless room in the garage for most of the time that he was home.
The 17-year-old testified remotely via closed circuit TV, as her parents Tim and Tracy Ferriter watched from the courtroom. The couple presented a united front, entering the courtroom together holding hands, before Tracy took a seat in the gallery behind her husband, the defendant.
The couples’ adopted daughter from China said there were days that went by when she did not see her brother. He was only permitted to move freely about the home for brief periods. According to the teen, he did not get treats or snacks as often as she and her sister did; and he was not permitted to have a phone or take part in the activities she and her sister enjoyed. He mostly he spent his time in his room or outside the house doing yard work. He was relegated to the cell-like room in their garage, while the rest of the family lived in the main house.
When asked if her father was ever physically aggressive with her brother, she responded by telling the jury that she saw the defendant ‘grab him by the neck and haul him to his room.’
“I would hear him curse at him, I would hear contact, slapping and hitting, and hear my brother screaming,” she said. “He seemed he was always in trouble.”
The defendant’s daughter said her brother appeared to be punished for minor infractions, such as not answering questions, talking back, or playing with them too roughly. While the defense suggested the other Ferriter children needed protection from their brother, FF testified she never felt threatened by him and did not feel unsafe around him.
The Ferriters lived in Arizona for five years before moving back to Florida in December 2021. FF said her brother was forced to live in a similar cell-like room when they lived in Tucson. The room – much like his garage room in Florida – did not have a window nor a bathroom. In both rooms, he had to use a bucket to relieve himself. The Florida room had a deadbolt that locked from outside and a light switch that was also operated from outside the room.
Earlier in the day, Detective Andrew Sharp testified that he executed search warrants on the ring camera he noticed in RF’s room when he went to the home to investigate Tracy Ferriter’s report that he was missing. Sharp said he recovered 21,000 clips from the ring camera and was able to deduce that the box spring and mattress he first saw in the garage was later moved into a bedroom when he went back to search the house about two weeks later.
Two videos recovered from the search showed Tracy Ferriter removing the bucket and linens from the garage room, evidence that the Ferriters were allegedly trying to conceal the true nature of the room, according to prosecutors.
In opening statements, prosecutor Brianna Coakley described the defendant’s treatment of his son as cruel, malicious and could only exacerbate problems for a child with behavioral issues.
Defense attorney Prya Murad conceded that some of her client’s actions could be bad parenting, but it did not amount to criminal behavior.
OFC. RYAN KOLINCH, JUPITER POLICE DEPARTMENT
- Responded to call about missing juvenile
- Talked to Tracy Ferriter
- She had the demeanor of mother trying to locate child
- Put out the BOLO with description of RF
SALLY COLLINS, FORMER JUPITER POLICE OFFICER
- Followed up the next day regarding missing juvenile
- When she arrived at Ferriter home no one was home
- Made phone contact with Tracy, who she said did not seem overly concerned
- Her son ‘had done it before’
- Tracy told her she was with one daughter while her husband was with another daughter
- Defense suggests officer got it wrong. Ferriter was actually out of the country not with his daughter
DETECTIVE ANDREW SHARP, JUPITER POLICE DEPT.
- Investigated report of missing juvenile
- On his first visit, he talked to Tracy Ferriter. She was reticent about letting her come into the house most of their conversation took place on the porch
- He was shown the enclosure in the garage – there was box spring, mattress, desk with books – and noticed a camera in the room
- Executes search warrant of the house on Feb 8/22 – discovers the box spring and mattress that had been in the garage room was moved out and into a bedroom
- Executed search warrant for the ring video camera he saw in the enclosure and recovers 21k clips
FF – DEFENDANT’S DAUGHTER
- 17 years old – born in China adopted as a toddler by the Ferriters
- Brother RF born in Vietnam and adopted by the Ferriters
- She has a younger sister Nolah and a younger brother Pierce
- Parents disciplined her brother more harshly and was forced to live in a room in the garage while the rest of the family lived in the main house.
To see the latest daily trial updates from the Boy in the Box Trial, click here.