BAKER COUNTY, Fla. - A Baker County father was arrested for child abuse after he admitted to beating his children with a wooden stick, according to deputies.
Joseph Mullins Senior, 37, and his wife reported their 17-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son missing Dec. 30.
Deputies visited their home and spoke with their 14-year-old son, who had left the residence with his siblings, but later returned home.
The teens had taken all of their belongings from the home, which was unorganized and lacked modern amenities such as a television and refrigerator, according to the police report.
Inside one bedroom, there was scattered trash on the floor. It was unclear where the missing teens slept or stored their belongings, according to the report.
Deputies identified a possible location for the teens from their social media accounts and found them walking out of a wooded area near Keegan Lane.
They told deputies they ran away because their father had beaten them.
The 16-year-old told deputies their father often hits them due to anger issues. They planned to run away to avoid the abuse, according to the police report.
No bruises were visible on his body, which he said was because he no longer bruises due to “being beaten all of his life,” according to the police report.
He told deputies his father hit him with a piece of wood.
Bruises were visible on the daughter’s thigh, hip, arm, elbow and back, according to deputies.
She begged deputies to take her and her brother to a foster home, and said she would rather die than return home to her father’s abuse, according to the police report.
Deputies brought the teens to a location to meet with their mother, who told deputies Mullins admitted to beating their children after deputies left their home.
When deputies went to the family’s home, they found Mullins walking out of the back door.
He admitted he had “whipped” them with a wooden stick and said it was because they were involved in a burglary, according to the police report.
He was arrested and charged with child abuse.
Deputies said the 14-year-old also said his father had whipped him with a stick.