A Pace woman allegedly home schooled her four adopted children for two years to prevent discovery of the severe abuse and neglect she inflicted on them.
Sheriff Bob Johnson told reporters Monday the allegations against Patricia Dianne Hyler, 48, were disturbing. She has been charged with one felony count of aggravated child abuse, but Johnson said more charges are coming.
Though Johnson said all of the children were abused, he said the Department of Children and Families believes a 14-year-old in the home was selected as a target child. The child had been living with Hyler for seven and half years, Johnson said.
In some cases of documented abuse, a single child, the target child, in the family is subjected to greater abuse or neglect than anyone else in the home. The reasons for the selection of the target child are unclear, but often they become the “scapegoat” of anxiety in home, suffering severe abuse.
In this case, Johnson said the child was physically beaten with fists and a dog chain, cut on the head and arms, forced to sleep on a concrete floor and bathed using a hose in the yard. Hyler also allegedly used pliers to chip the child’s teeth.
“She abused this child pretty severely,” Johnson said. “She took him (and the other children) out of school and home schooled him for two years because she knew if she sent him to school obviously somebody would report it.”
He said the abuse came to their attention after one of the other children texted someone and they reported it April 22. The case was handed to the major crimes unit May 6, and Hyler was arrested May 8.
Johnson said during the investigation the home was unclean and a “wreck.” Hyler had previously adopted two children who had since become adults. These individuals were interviewed by the investigator and reported similar abuse.
“It’s incredible what people can do to other people. It really is. It’s disturbing,” Johnson said of the case.
Hyler’s husband does not currently face charges, and Johnson said he will not likely be charged in the case. Though he lived in the home, Johnson said the husband worked late hours and was frequently out of the house.
Hyler remained in Santa Rosa County Jail on $100,000 bond Monday evening. The children have been taken into Department of Children and Families custody.