A Florida man jailed for allegedly abusing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter reportedly attempted to take his own life hours after his arrest on Wednesday.
WEAR reported Thursday that Andrew Bennett Ross Celaius, 37, is alive after being found hanging in his cell Wednesday night. Reportedly in protective custody, Celaius is facing multiple charges, including drug possession, aggravated child abuse, and child abuse, for what police described as the “systematic torture” of a toddler.
Law enforcement was alerted to the alleged abuse by medical professionals who reportedly identified burn marks on the child’s neck. The girl’s mother had taken her to the hospital, claiming she had ringworm, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Investigators searched Celaius’ home and reportedly discovered videos and pictures of him shooting the toddler with an airsoft gun, purposefully burning her with a lighter, hitting her with a bottle, and frightening her with a werewolf mask.
Authorities also alleged Celaius would deprive the girl of sleep by making her wear an electric-dog collar around her neck and shocking her when she appeared to doze off. Celaius is accused of also filming himself electrocuting the child awake using the dog collar, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
The girl’s mother, Maranda Mixson, was charged with neglect and has since bonded herself out of jail. Since then, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s Office told the news outlet that they don’t believe she was aware of the ongoing abuse.
“When we played the videos to her, she … she acted appropriately,” Sheriff David Morgan said, suggesting Mixson became highly upset.
But Mixson’s stepfather, James Clay, told WEAR that all the rooms were “wired” and that everything in the home was filmed — suggesting that Mixson may have been complicit.
“There’s over 1,000 pieces of evidence they’re still sifting through, but the important takeaway is Maranda knew about this,” he said.
Clay said that all three of Mixson’s children have been removed from the home and that he has emergency custody of her 2-year-old daughter. He also claimed that Mixson failed to appear in court Thursday for an unrelated case, prompting him to call 911 and request a welfare check.
The stepfather also said he suspects the district attorney offered Mixson a plea deal to testify against her boyfriend. He then urged officials to formally charge her so that she could go to prison.
“I hope Maranda burns in hell for what she’s done to those kids,” Clay added.
The State Attorney’s Office confirmed to WEAR that Celaius faced murder charges in 2006 stemming from the death of a young child. However, a jury ultimately acquitted him of the charges.
A friend of Celaius’, Eric Furnans, was charged as an accomplice in Celaius’ case for allegedly destroying evidence of the abuse. Celaius called Furnans from jail and asked him to destroy his cellphone, to which Furnans obliged, according to the Journal.
Furnans was arrested Wednesday and charged with evidence destruction, tampering with evidence, possession of drug paraphernalia, three counts of possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, and possession of marijuana.
[Featured image: Andrew Bennett Ross Celaius/Escambia County Jail]