Baker County authorities thought they were making a routine grow house bust on Wednesday. What they found inside the mobile home was far more disturbing. Troy Howell, 29, had chained his 18-year-old nephew to a bed to try and stop him from alerting others to the pot growing operation.
Howell had managed to set up an elaborate marijuana growing operation in the small mobile home outside of Jacksonville. Police found more than 100 plants and 15 pounds of processed marijuana.
He also managed to live in the home with three children: a 13-year-old niece, a 15-year-old nephew, and the 18-year-old.
Howell had apparently become worried that the 18-year-old would rat him out, so he decided to chain him to the bed.
"Troy had basically tied a chain to the axle of the trailer and ran it under the floor and actually tied him up around the neck in his bedroom there," Sheriff Joey Dobson told Jacksonville.com
The teen also showed signs of abuse, including several marks on his body.
Howell did provide his nephew with a chime so he could alert someone when he needed to eat or use the restroom. It's unknown how long the teen was kept captive, or why the children were living with Howell in the first place.
In the end it was the 13-year-old niece who actually alerted authorities. She told officials at her middle school about the operation. The school then contacted the Sheriff's office.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.