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Arrest report: Pace mother targeted adopted son with cruel acts of abuse for years


COLIN WARREN-HICKS   | Pensacola News Journal

The arrest report for a Pace mother accused of targeting one of her adopted children with particularly cruel acts of abuse sheds new light on what the 14-year-old boy endured for about two years.

Patricia Hyler, 47, was arrested May 8 and charged with aggravated child abuse after she allegedly stabbed the boy in the head with a kitchen knife.

The State Attorney’s Office expects further charges to be leveled against Hyler as more allegations of past abuse come to light, according to Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille.

"The investigation is ongoing. Both the sheriff’s office and our office are reviewing the facts and evidence, and I do anticipate that there will be additional charges filed in this case," Marcille said. "It does appear that the abuses had been occurring for an extended period of time."

At a Monday press conference, Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson called the case against Hyler one of the worst cases of child abuse he has encountered in his 38-year career in law enforcement.

The sheriff said Monday that Hyler abused all four of her adopted children but "took a special interest" in the 14-year-old boy, who the Florida Department of Children and Families referred to as the "target child."

Hyler's arrest report details a list of abuses the mother allegedly committed against the boy over two years, including chipping his front teeth with a pair of needle-nose pliers and a hammer; strangling him with her hands and at times a dog leash; and striking him with 2-by-4 pieces of hickory wood, baseball bats, a chain dog leash and miscellaneous items throughout the house.

Over those two years, the boy also endured forced isolation and starvation, was not allowed to go outside and was kept away from the other children. Many times, all the boy had to eat was the food his siblings managed to sneak him, according to the report.

The boy also allegedly wasn’t allowed to wash himself and instead of baths or showers, Hyler would "occasionally" spray him with a garden hose while he stood naked in a backyard, the report states.

Hyler was interviewed by law enforcement on April 29 and what she told deputies was not included in the arrest report.

Around the same time, law enforcement also spoke to witnesses who described the most recent incident that led to Hyler's arrest.

In that case, Hyler became angry at the boy for "not finishing his chores in the time frame she had set for him," the report stated. She reportedly yelled at him in the kitchen, took him into a bathroom and began "slashing" at him with a kitchen knife.

She cut his arms and hands, causing him to lean over the bathtub because he was bleeding. Hyler then struck the back of his head with a knife, causing the knife be momentarily stuck in his head, before calling him a "stupid bastard" and saying it was his fault she had stabbed him, the report stated.

The abuse allegations came to light after one of Hyler's adopted children texted a witness about the abuse and that witness subsequently contacted authorities.

The sheriff said at Monday's press conference that Hyler took the boy out of school and home schooled him for two years "because she knew that if she sent him to school, obviously, somebody would report it."

According to her arrest report, when DCF conducted a welfare check on the adopted children at one point, Hyler told the kids that if they were ever removed from her care due to reported abuses, "she would find them and kill them."

Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at colinwarrenhicks@pnj.com or 850-435-8680.

2020 May 12