TAMPA — Stacey Horace, the 31-year-old mother accused of beating seven children for five years, was investigated by the Florida Department of Children and Families earlier this year, officials said.
Horace was arrested Tuesday afternoon following the DCF's most recent investigation, which began Nov. 4, said DCF spokeswoman Erin Gillespie.
According to an arrest affidavit, Horace had used extension cords, metal spoons, a hammer and a stun gun to abuse her children since 2004.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said the children's ages range from 11 months to 10 years old. Deputies were alerted to the children's situation by a tip phoned in to the state's child abuse hotline, sheriff's Maj. Rob Bullara said.
Horace was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail and released on $2,000 bail.
Gillespie said the DCF has investigated Horace before but found no evidence of abuse. She would not release any details of that investigation, including when exactly it occurred.
Gillespie said the children are safe and have been placed with other family members.
Horace's arrest record dates back to 1996.
State prison records show that Horace — also known as Taganika Durant, Deberah Eldell, Shorty Thompson and nine other aliases — was sentenced in 2007 to a year and a half on probation after pleading guilty to fraud, worthless check and grand theft charges.
And jail records indicate that Horace was arrested less than two weeks before her most recent child abuse charge, accused of violating that probation.
Neighbor Jeff Stull, 21, said he's never seen any evidence of violence at the Horace home. He has seen the kids outside, walking into the blue-and-green apartment unit from the bus stop, but nothing has ever seemed unusual.
But Stull said when he told his mother about Horace's alleged abuse, she said she wasn't surprised.
"Apparently, she's seen her (Horace) backhand one of the kids," Stull said.