Friday, June 22, 2018
Public safety

More charges for Tampa mother accused of abusing, starving children

TAMPA — Authorities have filed additional charges against Jamie Hicks, the Tampa mother accused of starving and abusing at least seven of her children during the past eight years.

The latest medical reports confirmed allegations of abuse by Hicks' 12- and 13-year-old boys, Tampa police said.

The 13-year-old had bruises over his body "consistent with being hit and kicked," police said. The 12-year-old has permanent scarring on the roof of his mouth, which police said is due to Hicks repeatedly sticking her fingers down his throat to force him to vomit.

Last week, police arrested Hicks, 43, saying she starved her 16-year-old twin boys, forcing them to eat their vomit and punishing them for "stealing" food. She'd hit them with various objects, choked them to the point of unconsciousness, held their heads under water and fed them spoiled food, police wrote in an arrest affidavit March 27.

The twins were underweight, malnourished and had to be hospitalized, police said. They remained in the hospital Wednesday.

The state last week took protective custody of Hicks' eight children — the twins, boys ages 4, 7, 10, 12 and 13, and a 2-year-old girl.

It wasn't the first time such action was taken, Tampa police said Wednesday. In 1996 in Utah, Hicks' parental rights for three of her children were severed.

Those are different, older children than her eight in Tampa.

Police did not have more details and reports from Utah were unavailable.

Last week, the Florida Department of Children and Families said it had previously investigated Hicks' family, though the agency would not share details or say when the case was opened or closed.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman said that, in Florida, child protection investigators run background checks on parents, which can include histories from other states.

"If we know the parents live in another state and there may be concern of prior issues, the investigators will often reach out to that state's child welfare departments to obtain additional information on any prior reports or investigations," wrote DCF spokeswoman Natalie Harrell.

When it comes to Hicks, the department says it can't share many details due to state law. However, investigators reached out to child welfare departments "in all known states where the parents resided" in the previous DCF case, Harrell wrote.

"The information obtained was included in the investigation and taken into account," she stated.

Still, the DCF case was closed. Tampa police say they didn't get involved until March 25, when Hicks reported two of her children missing from her home, just north of Sulphur Springs.

Police saw "red flags" and investigated further. Seven of the children (each one except the 2-year-old) separately shared consistent stories of abuse, police said.

Neighbors said last week they didn't suspect abuse inside the four-bedroom, yellow concrete block house.

Hicks homeschooled her children and played with them in their well-manicured yard, though she'd never let them venture outside the metal fence at 1414 E Annie St.

Still in jail, Hicks now faces another count of aggravated child abuse, two more counts of child neglect and one count of child abuse.

Aggravated child abuse is a first-degree felony.

Authorities also initially charged the twin's stepfather, Vernon Courtney Lovell, 53, with two counts of child neglect.

Police say he knew of the abuse and never reported it.

On Wednesday, he remained in jail as authorities levied two additional charges against him — two counts of child neglect with great bodily harm, a second-degree felony.

Times news researchers John Martin and Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Comments
Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

A 28-year-old cheerleading coach faces charges for engaging in "inappropriate behavior" with a 16-year-old girl, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Victor Martin Valenty faces 10 counts of traveling to meet a minor, distributing ob...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

FORT LAUDERDALE — Authorities in Florida have arrested a suspect in the killing of rising rap star XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in his luxury BMW electric car as he left an upscale motorcycle dealership. Dedrick Devonshay Williams, 22, o...
Published: 06/21/18
St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

ST. PETERSBURG — Three lieutenants responsible for supervising the police officers who patrol the city were found to have been faking their work hours instead of showing up for duty on time.In some cases, the watch commanders submitted time sheets st...
Published: 06/21/18
Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

A Suntrust Bank in Zephyr-hills was robbed early Thursday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.At 12:50 p.m., deputies said, the man walked into the bank at 34511 State Road 54 and presented a note demanding money, though he did ...
Published: 06/21/18
Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

TAMPA — To his friends and neighbors at Tampa Baptist Manor, Norman Lester Porterfield was the man who fed and spoiled Lucky, the scruffy stray calico cat in the back yard. To his friends and coworkers at the Salvation Army, he was a great athlete, a...
Published: 06/21/18
Weeki Wachee man arrested after search warrant turns up drugs, thousands of vape cartridges

Weeki Wachee man arrested after search warrant turns up drugs, thousands of vape cartridges

A Weeki Wachee man faces drug charges after deputies said a search of his home Wednesday turned up nearly three pounds of marijuana, more than three pounds of hashish wax and more than 3,000 hashish oil cartridges for vape pens.Devin Alexander Volkes...
Published: 06/21/18

Pasco deputies safely locate missing Holiday autistic teen

An autistic boy, who went missing after walking out of his Holiday home on Wednesday night, has been safely located.Jordan Webb, 16, left his home around 11 p.m., according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.He was safely located on Thursday mornin...
Published: 06/21/18
Pastor took out an active shooter and expertly treated the wounded, all after delivering his Sunday sermon

Pastor took out an active shooter and expertly treated the wounded, all after delivering his Sunday sermon

On Sunday morning, David George, pastor of the Oakville, Washington, Assembly of God Church, delivered his sermon as he does every Sunday. The subject, on Father’s Day, was "The Value of MENtoring," about how much difference an individual can make in...
Published: 06/21/18
Brandon man held on $750,000 bail, accused of 100 counts of child pornography

Brandon man held on $750,000 bail, accused of 100 counts of child pornography

A Brandon man has been charged with 100 counts of possession of child pornography after deputies discovered more than 100 images of child pornography on his computer, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Troi Amacher, 29, was arreste...
Published: 06/21/18
Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

LARGO — Vanessa Rodriguez thought she found the right house for her three kids, in the right neighborhood, for the right rent. She signed the lease for April 30, sent a $2,300 money order and planned to move in June 1.Then the delays started. She sai...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18