Son of former Citrus County teacher charged in her murder

The son of a Citrus County teacher, who was found dead in her home in July, has been charged with her murder, according to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office. 

The body of 57-year-old Denise Hallowell was allegedly found the night of July 13 by her 17-year-old son, Carlos Hallowell, who told investigators he was awakened by barking dogs and then made the gruesome discovery.  

The sheriff's office said a 9-week investigation revealed "hidden digital evidence" that lead to the arrest of Carlos Hallowell. He is charged with first-degree, premeditated murder.

Denise Hallowell's murder came three years after she was accused by the youngest of her two adopted sons of abuse. She was arrested in Sept. 2015 after her 12-year-old son, who was adopted from Honduras, said Denise physically abused him by locking him inside his room and not feeding him. However, the State Attorney's Office soon found evidence, or rather, a lack of evidence to back up those claims.

At the time, Denise said she told investigators her younger son had been troubled for years - claims that her older adopted son apparently corroborated at the time.

LINK: Former teacher, cleared in abuse case, tries to rebuild

"He immediately refuted everything his younger brother had said. They talked to teachers. Teachers knew my youngest son through years of school here. They were also in agreement with me," Denise said.

In a 2016 interview with FOX 13 News, Denise said she was also adopted as a child and knew the journey is not always easy.

"There are conditions that some of these children have that they actually grow further away from you," Hallowell said. "Some of that is because of those experiences they had in the past that we don't know anything about."

Despite the tumultuous situation, she said, "I am a forever mom. Many children need good homes, forever homes."

Investigators did not release the names of Denise Hallowell's adopted sons at the time of the abuse allegations against her. While Citrus County investigators have now identified Carlos Hallowell as Denise Hallowell's son, it was not made clear whether Carlos is the older of Denise's adopted sons.

The Citrus County Sheriff's Office said the investigation continues.