Sheriff: Circus promoters accused in death of 12-year-old boy restrained with shackles, shock collar

MONROE COUNTY, Ind. -- A 12-year-old boy was restrained in a motel bathtub with shackles and a dog collar before he died, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said. The boy’s father and his stepmother, who worked as circus promoters, face charges in connection with his death.

The mother of Eduardo Posso, 12, spoke with WXIN -- indicating she knew something was wrong.

Aurea Esmeralda Garcia and her brother, Jorge Omar showed WXIN a video of Posso cooking in the kitchen -- and remembered him smiling and laughing. Garcia said it was taken during the last visit she had with her son in 2017.

"When the police said, 'Can we walk inside of your house and talk to you' I knew something was wrong because they're not normal to do that," she said.

Police arrested Eduardo Posso's father, Luis Posso Jr., 32, and stepmother, Dayana Medina Flores, 25, on Friday, May 24, for neglect.

Investigators with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said they were called to Bloomington Hospital Friday, where Eduardo Posso was pronounced dead. The coroner said he was severely emaciated, weighing only 50 to 55 pounds, with 0% body fat.

"You try to make sense, because it seems like I’m still sleeping. There’s no way that something like that could be true," Jorge Omar, the boy's uncle said.

Authorities said during a search of the Bloomington motel room where Luis Posso Jr. and Dayana Medina Flores stayed with Eduardo Posso and his other siblings, they found wrist and ankle restraints, chains and a dog training shock collar. They said they found images on a cellphone of him in restraints with the shock collar on his neck in the bathtub. Investigators said both denied withholding food. Posso admitted to some sort of abuse.

"We believe probably within the last year, things seemed to have gotten more severe," Monroe County Detective Lt. Jennifer Allen said.

Investigators said they believe the family had recently arrived in Monroe County, Indiana to promote a circus.

An attorney said in a statement the circus uses advance advertising business as an independent contractor, stating: "The circus, via their attorney, has reached out to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and have and will continue to offer their full support in providing what limited information they have to assist in this investigation. Again, a tragedy has occurred, and the circus offers its prayer in regard to the same, but the circus has had absolutely no contact or business relationship with Luis Posso or Dayan Medina Flores."

"There was some CPS involvement in the state of Florida," Monroe County Sheriff Brad Swain said.

Aurea Esmeralda Garcia, the boy's mother, said she thought her son was supposed to be in Florida. She didn't have custody and wasn't able to see or talk to her kids often. She said she believed something was wrong and that she and others tried to sound the alarm in Florida.

"I want to see him. I want to kiss him, however he is, and tell him I’m sorry. I did everything I could, but nothing worked," Garcia said.

A spokesperson for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said they were called by the school district to investigate a possible child abuse incident. The spokesperson said they had incidents reported to them in November 2017 and November 2018. They investigated and found nothing.

A spokesperson for the school district of Manatee County confirmed Eduardo Posso was withdrawn from the district to be home schooled in December 2018. He attended school in the district sporadically since 2012.

"No one will listen, and this happens now. Now my son is dead," Gardcia said.

Garcia said she wants people to listen to make sure this never happens again.

"You don’t even do that to an animal -- chain it up like that and abuse it the way he was abused," Garcia said.

Investigators were waiting on a cause and manner of death for Eduardo Posso. An initial hearing for Posso and Flores was expected Friday.

Their three other kids, a 9-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy, and a 2-year-old boy, were placed in the care of Child Protective Services, and investigators said they appeared to be healthy.