Four arrested in child abuse case in Cottondale

COTTONDALE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Four people are behind bars after their alleged involvement in a child abuse case in Jackson County.

Sheriff's deputies said they went to the scene of a reported child abuse case on Farren Ranch Road in Cottondale Sunday.

When deputies arrived, they said they talked to the grandmother of seven minors who said all seven children at the home were repeatedly disciplined with a belt by four people who often visit.

Investigators learned a babysitter was watching the children for about two weeks while the parents were working.

Deputies noticed extreme bruising and several welts on six of the children.

They called in the Department of Children and Families to talk to each child.

The investigation determined the children were not only whipped with a belt, but they were also sleep deprived and required to do intense exercises such as running, sit-ups, wall sits, and planks until 4 a.m.

The children named the people who allegedly punished them as Kenneth Spooner III, 20; Tyler Sheffield, 19; Danny Tijerina, 18; and Jade Whitehead, 20.

Officials said Sheffield, Tijerina, and Whitehead were taken into custody at the Whitehead home before authorities caught up Spooner and arrested him.

Deputies charged all four with child abuse and took them to the Jackson County Jail where they wait for first appearance.

All children are now in the custody of the grandmother.

More charges are possible in the case