Miami-Dade County

Sweetwater police: Autistic man was kept in ‘dungeon-like conditions’

An autistic man was kept in “dungeon-like” conditions in his mother’s trailer home, Sweetwater police said.

After police received an anomyous tip Thursday afternoon, they arrived at the trailer at 11250 NW Third St. while no one was home. They entered with the aid of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and discovered a small room with a mattress, a “blacked-out window” and an iron door that locked only from the outside.

The dark room had no bathroom and smelled of urine and feces, Sweetwater police spokeswoman Michelle Hammontree-Garcia said.

While police were inside the home, the mother and her 30-year-old autistic son returned. The woman, identified as Gladys Jaramillo, 56, was arrested. She was charged with aggravated abuse and neglect on a mentally disabled adult and false imprisonment.

According to the arrest report, Jaramillo told police she sedated her son and then left him locked in the room to go out with her boyfriend.

Her son, who was not identified, was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center for treatment of scratches and bruises.

The tipster reported that the man’s mother left him alone in the home for long periods.

It was not the family’s first contact with authorities.

Florida Department of Children & Families interim Secretary Esther Jacobo acknowledged the department has a history with the man, but gave no details.

A DCF investigator was en route Thursday evening to visit the man and initiate an investigation, said Jacobo.

Neighbors of the family in the West Miami-Dade city, near the main campus of Florida International University, said the mother and son lived alone in the trailer home.

“He’s a troubled young man, but not aggressive,” said Liliana Blanco, who lives two houses away. “Sometimes she went away and left him alone.”

However, according to Paul Morales, a neighborhood resident for 15 years, the woman had a daughter who was deported last year.

“When the daughter lived here, we saw police in the area every day,” Morales said. “She is an irresponsible woman. One day we saw her son running in a diaper.”

Some Fridays and Saturdays, said another neighbor, Ismael Arcia, the woman would go to the Miccosukee casino. “I usually go there and see her on Friday and Saturday,” Arcia said. “Why would she leave her son alone?”

But none of the neighbors said they suspected the woman kept her son in the conditions that police described.

Charges are pending against the mother, police said, and the case remains an open investigation.

El Nuevo Herald writer Silvia Higuera contributed to this report.