Broward County

Missing 3-year-old Hollywood boy was found stuffed in a box

Ahizya Osceola.
Ahizya Osceola.

After feeling her 3-year-old stepson’s cold body and giving him CPR, Analiz Osceola covered him in two garbage bags and stuck him in a box in the laundry room, papers filed in Broward County family court claim.

The documents, first obtained by Miami Herald news partner CBS 4, also show Osceola kept the boy’s condition a secret from his father and grandmother, a nurse, and that family members notified police of a missing child four hours later. The family initially told police the father had last seen his son, Ahizya Osceola, before he went to work around 8 a.m. Thursday. The family said the boy’s stepmother had fallen asleep, and when she had awakened, Ahizya was gone.

Police said they raced to the white, single-story ranch home at 5420 Johnson St. and that after receiving consent to enter spent several hours looking, but found nothing. Police found the body 10 hours after they were notified, after an exhaustive search that included bloodhounds and helicopters.

“When the child was located, he had extensive bruising from head to toe. His stomach was distended and bloated. The stepmother explained the other injuries being due to the child being very clumsy,” the documents claim.

Police found little Ahizya Osceola in the laundry room at 9 p.m. last Thursday after repeated searches in the home, in fields near the home and in canals. The harried scene around the home brought the neighborhood to a halt, with car drivers stopping in front of the home on Hollywood’s Johnson Street wondering what was going on. Neighbors, too, gathered and helped in the search.

As the search was ongoing, Ahizya’s biological mother Karen Cypress — who hadn’t seen him since Christmas — begged for help.

Court records paint a picture of a dysfunctional family, one where many of the key adults in Ahizya’s life were hooked on drugs, were known to the police and, in one case, involved a step-uncle kicked off the Seminole Indian Reservation.

This saga began with a frantic call to Seminole Police around 11 a.m. last Thursday saying a 3-year-old boy was missing. The mother of the stepmother reported the child missing.

Seminole police then called Hollywood Police because the home is in Hollywood’s jurisdiction. Analiz Osceola, the stepmother, told police her wallet and money were missing, leading police to consider a possible abduction, the documents show.

Police used dogs and helicopters and even went door to door looking for the little boy. A picture of his smiling face flashed across television screens. Police waited until Friday morning to announce the search was over, saying they found the boy’s body in the home. They didn’t say where in the home, only that they had to search a second time to find him.

The boy’s father, Nelson Osceola, appeared at a court hearing Monday; the judge placed Ahizya’s two siblings — an 8-month-old sister and a 5-year-old stepbrother — with Nelson Osceola’s sister, Carlene Osceola, for their protection.

By Tuesday, police hadn’t made any arrests and said they have not received the Medical Examiner’s report.

“We have an open investigation and I can’t comment any further at this time,” said Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez.

The court papers shed light on the case:

The stepmother, Analiz Osceola, initially told police she went into Ahizya’s room at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday to wake the boy for breakfast and couldn’t find him. She then called her husband, Nelson Osceola, and told her mother the child was missing. The grandmother, identified in court papers as Anubis, called police.

After pressured by police, the stepmother changed her story. Now, she said, she heard Ahizya, who was sleeping in the same room with her and her 5-year-old son, “grunting.’’ It was around 4 a.m. Thursday.

“She got up and went over to check on Ahizya. She touched him and he was slightly cold to the touch, but still warm.”

She told police she tried to do CPR and he made noises. She then tried to give him Pedialyte. After deciding that that wasn’t a good idea, she “put her finger down his throat to try to get him to vomit.” She once again tried CPR to no avail.

“The stepmother did not notify anyone about Ahizya’s state, even her own mother, who lives in the home with the family and is a nurse,” the court papers say.

Instead, she put the boy’s limp body back in bed and lay down in her own bed.

When Nelson Osceola came home 10 minutes later, she never said anything to him about his son. In fact, the father tended to his daughter and brought her into the bedroom where the stepmother was and where Ahizya was.

At about 7 a.m., when her husband and mother had left, the stepmother took two garbage bags and placed one on Ahizya’s head and one on his torso. She then placed his body in a box in the laundry room.

About four hours later she told her mother Ahizya was missing. The grandmother called police.

Police tested Ahizya’s parents for drugs. They both tested positive for marijuana and the father also tested positive for “benzos,’’ the court papers say.

Ahizya’s parents — Nelson Osceola and the boy’s biological mother, Karen Cypress — have “extensive police histories and drug histories,’’ according to the records.

Gary Bitner, a spokesman for the Indian tribe, said Tuesday prosecutors are reviewing the criminal history of the child’s biological parents with the Seminole Police to determine if they’re relevant to the case. He said both parents had been arrested by Seminole police for “various issues.’’

In fact, a year ago, Cypress lost custody of her son “after she was intoxicated at a hotel, passed out, and Ahziya was found wandering throughout the hotel,’’ the records say.

The father and stepmother were granted custody of the little boy, who lived with them in their Hollywood home at 5420 Johnson St. Also living with them: the stepmother’s two adult brothers who have “extensive drug histories,’’ the court records said. One them is not allowed on the Seminole Reservation anymore.

Meanwhile, Cypress could see her son from 10 to 5 on Saturdays. Ahziya was lactose intolerant, however, and Cypress “would feed him things that would make him sick after spending time with his mother.”

As a result, Cypress had not seen her son since December, and was not aware of where he was living, the records say.

The state’s Department of Children & Families knew where the family lived. It has four reports related to Ahizya since 2013, the most recent one coming last month, when DCF was alerted to possible physical injury to Ahizya.

“The alleged perpetrator was unknown, however it was suspected the abuse was occurring at the father’s residence,” the report said.

Last week, Nelson Osceola told police Ahizya was “rambunctious” and that he “ran around the home a lot and was constantly falling down.’’

“The father stated they bought Ahizya a helmet for Christmas to wear around the home, as he was constantly hitting his head when he fell.’’

Miami Herald Staff Writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.

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