Parents charged with murder, aggravated child abuse in one of ‘worst cases’ in Osceola history

Two parents are facing murder charges in the death of their 6-year-old child, as well as aggravated child abuse of their 5-year-old, 4-year-old, twin 2-year-olds, and 10-month old children in what Osceola officials say is one of the “worst child abuse cases” in the county’s 135-year history.

During a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez and representatives from his office described in detail the charges and allegations of abuse levied against Larry Johnathan Rhodes and Bianca Blaise, the parents of the six children.

Larry Rhodes and Bianca Blaise

According to police, the couple and their six children came to Osceola County this past March. The entire family of eight was living out of one room at the Knights Inn located at 4651 U.S. Highway 192 in Kissimmee.

The children were not in school and the parents had no known relatives in the area, according to Sheriff Lopez.

On July 5, Blaise called the sheriff’s office and reported that her six year-old son had been drinking water out of the toilet and had drowned.

A deputy arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and administered CPR to the child, who was transported to the hospital and placed on life support with life-threatening injuries.

During their investigation, OCSO detectives determined that the six-year-old child had been beaten by his parents after they found that he had been drinking out of the toilet.

Investigators say the mother and father took turns beating the child.

During the beating, the child sustained a brain bleed and a lacerated liver.

The parents were arrested at the time of the first incident and charged with neglect.

The child died a few days later due to blunt force trauma to the head and abdomen, according to the Osceola County Medical Examiner’s office.

This week, Rhodes was arrested again and he and Blaise were charged with murder.

In July, the other five children were visibly malnourished and had experienced severe child abuse when police found them.

During their press conference on Wednesday, OCSO officials shared photographs that showed similar markings across the bodies of the children, including bruises and cuts that appeared to be inflicted with a “distinct pattern,” according to Sheriff Lopez.

Scars and lacerations on the back of 5 year old child abused by Larry Rhodes and Bianca Blaise

Detectives learned that as punishment, the parents would send the children to the corner of the hotel room and beat them with the bottom of a shoe. The markings on the bodies of the children were consistent with the form of the shoe, which tested positive for blood residue.

All five children had sustained serious injuries as a result of the abuse, including the 10-month old baby, who had a hemorrhage above the left eye, among other markings.

The shoe that the parents used to beat the children tested positive for blood

The State Attorney’s Office has brought additional charges against them, including aggravated manslaughter of a child, aggravated child abuse, and five counts of child neglect.

The surviving children were removed in July and are currently in foster care.

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