A Florida Keys teacher couldn’t ignore the 8-year-old girl with the swollen, bruised eye who wore a long-sleeved sweatshirt to cover more wounds.
Now, the woman who had adopted the girl is accused of felony child abuse after the third grader told her teacher, “My mom beat the crap out of me,” according to the police report.
Holly Maria Estes, 54, of Big Pine Key, was arrested Thursday on a $10,000 bond, 10 days after her adopted daughter told her teacher at Sugarloaf School her mom had grabbed her by her hair, beaten her on her lower back and then threw her across a room on March 30.
The girl said her shoulder struck a shoe storage box.
“The victim said that this was the worst beating she had received from the suspect,” and wasn’t the first time she has been hit, wrote Monroe County Sheriff’s Detective Bernardo Barrios.
The only people at home at the time of the beating, the girl told police, were two 6-month-old infants and a 2-year-old. The incident happened after Estes received an email from a teacher regarding school behavior, police said.
The teacher contacted the school resource officer after asking the girl how she got the bruised eye.
Estes told police she only spanked the girl on her bottom about five times for not minding her about taking a shower and going to bed, the report states. She also said she was overwhelmed at times by caring for the children and had arranged to take some anger management classes.
The girl went into the bathroom to cry, Estes said, and the next day the girl said her eye hurt.
She “told the victim that it was irritated from all the crying she did the night before,” Barrios wrote. Estes said she didn’t notice the girl’s injury when she dropped her off at school April 2.
The state Department of Children and Families removed four children from the home, including the 8-year-old girl, her 11-year-old brother and two foster children who were living there, according to the arrest report.
Estes’ husband, Stephen Estes, told police he saw his wife spank the child but he was not aware of any injury to her eye. He told police the foster children had “behavior issues.”
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen