A Pace mother was arrested in what Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson called one of the worst cases of child abuse he has encountered in his 38-year career in law enforcement.
Patricia Hyler is accused of abusing her 14-year-old adopted son for years by beating him with a dog chain, cutting his arms and head, and even chipping his teeth with pliers. She also allegedly made him sleep on a dirty concrete floor and forced him to bath by stripping off his clothing in the front yard and spraying him with a hose.
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The 47-year-old woman was arrested May 8 and charged with aggravated child abuse. Johnson said further criminal charges are expected to be leveled against her at the conclusion of the sheriff's office investigation.
"I'll be honest with you, as a father it pisses me off, is what it does," Johnson said at a press conference Monday announcing Hyler's arrest. "Somebody that can do that to another human is bad enough. But you start doing that to a child, yeah, we take it personally. We really do."
Hyler had four adopted children, and Johnson said evidence shows she abused all of them. But she "took a special interest" in the 14-year-old boy, who the Florida Department of Children and Families referred to as the "target child."
The boy lived with Hyler and her husband for the past seven and a half years at their home on Chalet Circle in Pace.
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"She abused this child pretty severely, but she took him out of school and home schooled him for two years because she knew that if she sent him to school, obviously, somebody would report it,” Johnson said. "So she kept him at home."
The abuse allegations came to light after one of Hyler's adopted children texted a witness about the abuse and that witness subsequently contacted authorities.
Johnson said he did not expect Hyler's spouse to be charged in the matter. The sheriff said he worked long hours and evidently was not in the home when the abuse was committed.
SRSO deputies also interviewed two additional people who Hyler had previously adopted and who had since left the home. Johnson said the two individuals also described acts of abuse they had witnessed while previously living with Hyler.
"I don’t know how you fix something like that," Johnson said. "When you do something to a child, that is so horrendous."
Hyler is being held at the Santa Rosa County Jail without bond.
Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at email@example.com or 850-435-8680.