A Florida man who was acquitted of murdering a child years ago is now accused of repeatedly torturing a 2-year-old girl by burning her, shocking her with a dog collar and throwing bottles at her while wearing a werewolf mask, the Pensacola News Journal reports.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, authorities announced this week they had arrested 37-year-old Andrew Ross-Celaius of Pensacola on charges of aggravated child abuse, child abuse, possession of a weapon and a probation violation, in addition to various drug charges.
Emergency room doctors discovered the abuse when the girl’s mother, 28-year-old Maranda Lyn Mixson—Ross-Celaius’s girlfriend—brought her daughter to a hospital, apparently believing the girl had ringworm.
Medical staff determined that marks on the child’s body were wounds from burns and notified police.
Officers later went to the home and uncovered photographic evidence of the abuse on cell phones and security cameras.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for over 30 years and when I looked at the evidence that we saw here, me and members of my staff were speechless,” Escambia County Chief Deputy Chip Simmons said at a Wednesday news conference, according to the report.
One video shows Ross-Celaius shocking the girl with a dog collar, causing her to cry out in pain. He also is accused of burning the girl with a butane lighter.
Two videos show Ross-Celaius entering the child’s room wearing a werewolf mask before throwing a bottle at her.
“If you want to think of something you could do a child to terrorize them, this child lived through that,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said at the news conference, adding: “It’s the thing nightmares are made of and no child should ever be subjected to this.”
Morgan said the girl had been subjected to “systematic torture” for at least two months or more.
“The truly heinous nature of this crime is in some cases truly indescribable,” Morgan said.
After police arrested Ross-Celaius, he allegedly called an associate and told him to destroy any cell phones with evidence of the abuse.
Mixon, the mother, was initially arrested for alleged neglect but has since been released on bond.
“The only saving grace that I can say is that at the end of this, the conclusion of this investigation, we are comforted to some degree by the thought that this precious child will not be harmed tonight,” Simmons said.
Ross-Celaius was charged in 2006 with the murder of 2-year-old, but he was acquitted, according to the New York Daily News.
He was hospitalized Wednesday night after he was found hanging in his jail cell, but was still alive, according to Fox News.