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Parents arrested in Kissimmee motel child abuse case now facing murder charge

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 8/10/2022 Cristóbal Reyes, Orlando Sentinel
Larry Rhodes (left) and Bianca Blaise © Orlando Sentinel/TNS Larry Rhodes (left) and Bianca Blaise

Two parents jailed last month after Osceola County deputy sheriffs found one of their children suffered a brain bleed after his head was found in the toilet in a Kissimmee hotel room are now being accused of murder, according to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

In addition to second-degree murder and aggravated manslaughter charges, Larry Rhodes, 22, and longtime girlfriend Bianca Blaise, 25, face six counts of child neglect with great bodily harm and one of aggravated child abuse, court records show. Both are currently in the Osceola County Jail without bond.

Larry Rhodes © Orlando Sentinel/TNS Larry Rhodes

Sheriff Marcos López called the July 5 scene at the Knights Inn “one of the worst child abuse cases in the history of Osceola County,” showing photos of some of the injuries suffered by the children, whose ages ranged from 10 months to 6 years old.

He also showed an image of the hotel room where the family stayed, with clothes and other items strewn about the floors, beds and shelves.

Blaise told deputies she arrived at the Knights Inn where they were staying with their six children when they found their oldest, a 6-year-old boy, unconscious with his head in the toilet, as if he was “drinking from the bowl.” She told deputies the child drowned.

López told reporters Wednesday the boy’s injuries weren’t consistent with a drowning, and an autopsy found the child suffered blunt force trauma on his head and abdomen.

“The reason he wasn’t breathing is because his parents got very angry because he was drinking out of the toilet and started to beat him,” López said. “First the mother beat him, then the father... punched him multiple times in the head and the stomach area of this 6-year-old child.”

At the hospital, doctors found the child had suffered a brain bleed, which led them to put the child on life support before he died days later. He also had a lacerated liver and scrapes on his torso that were “too many to count,” the sheriff said.

Authorities found extensive injuries on the other children, including cuts, bruises and abrasions. They also found a sandal that had blood on the sole.

Initially, Blaise told deputies she hadn’t witnessed Rhodes hitting the children and that the injuries were from them roughhousing with each other. But she later described her boyfriend of seven years as having repeatedly beaten them “if he does not like their behavior.”

“She was lying from the beginning, saying that this kid drowned in the toilet,” López said. “... Shame on her. She’s the mother that gave birth to these six kids, and she put herself in this predicament and she didn’t do something before. So she’s just as guilty.”

López said much of what’s known about the extent of the alleged was told to deputies by two of the siblings — a 4- and a 5-year-old — though Blaise also allegedly confessed to her role in the beatings.

The children also were found malnourished, and neighbors told detectives they didn’t know children were living in the hotel room at the time.

They were taken into the custody of the Florida Department of Children & Families and are currently in foster care.

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