ODESSA (FOX 13) - A Pasco County man is in jail, facing charges in what’s being called an extreme case of child neglect.
A neighbor, Royal Sherbet saw the alleged neglect first-hand. He described an 11.5-year-old boy who weighed only 59 pounds - closer to the weight of an 8-year-old.
“He looked extremely skinny and unfed, and I even went over one day and knocked on the door of the trailer and asked the guy if he had any food or if he’d take him fishing because he was hungry,” Sherbet said.
Investigators say the child was living in a condemned house in Odessa with his caretaker, Steven Skaggs, Sr.
“There’s been no electricity to the place in months and months,” Sherbet said.
The sheriff's office confirmed there was no electricity, no running water, exposed wires, and barely any food.
Tips to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Abuse Hotline led to Skaggs' arrest Thursday.
"This child, he was trained to not answer the door. He was used to being by himself," explained Kristine Fletcher, with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office Child Protective Investigations Division. “You need to be aware, you need to ask questions, and when something doesn’t seem right, that’s when you need to become involved.”
Deputies say the child hasn’t been to school in over a year and does not have current vaccinations.
The arrest comes as a relief for neighbors, who say they’ve been trying to get help for months.
“The little kid will be much better off in a good home where he can get good examples set for him and get good food and be able to know what it’s like to sleep in a place that’s not over 100 degrees,” Sherbet said.
The boy is now in the care of family and friends. Officials say he has already regained 10 pounds.