A man was arrested after allegedly torturing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter.
Andrew Ross Celaius, 37, was captured on video surveillance burning the girl with a blowtorch, shocking her with a dog collar, and hurling a water bottle at her, authorities said.
“The level of terror that this child was put through, our abuser would wear a mask, a werewolf mask, and the collar … is a tasing collar for dogs,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told reporters at a press conference. “If you want to think of something you could do to a child to terrorize her, this child lived through that.”
“It’s the thing nightmares are made of and no child should ever be subjected to this,” he added.
An investigation was launched when Celaius’s girlfriend took her girl to the hospital for treatment for what she thought was ringworm but physicians quickly recognized as burn marks.
In addition to the surveillance footage, police later found footage on the cellphone of the suspect.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for over 30 years and when I looked at the evidence that we saw here, me and my staff were speechless,” said Chief Deputy Chip Simmons.
Celaius was arrested and charged with probation violation, possession of a weapon, marijuana possession, drug equipment, drugs-health-safety, six counts of aggravated child abuse, four counts of child abuse, and three counts of possession of a controlled substance.
DEVELOPING: Escambia Co. deputies conducting a welfare check on the mother of the 2 Y/O who was allegedly tortured & abused by Andrew Bennett Ross Celaius. According to sources, Celaius was found hanging in his jail cell last night. A county spokesperson confirms he is alive. pic.twitter.com/8c6LlRNTBm
— Hannah Mackenzie (@Hannahh_Mackk) May 2, 2019
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Escambia County Sheriff’s Office says 37-year-old Andrew Ross Celaius was taken from the jail to the hospital Wednesday night for unknown reasons.https://t.co/x0SiGOF6nd https://t.co/YGwkUquuI0
— WKRG (@WKRG) May 2, 2019
The State Attorney’s Office confirmed to WEAR-TV that Celaius was charged in 2006 with the murder of a young child but he was found not guilty by a jury.
Investigators are looking into whether he sexually abused the child in the recent case and said he could face more charges.
The girlfriend was cooperating with police and has not been charged yet. The child was given to her biological father.
Eric Furnans, 36, was also arrested for allegedly destroying evidence for Celaius while he was in prison.
Celaius was arrested on April 9 on drug and weapon possession charges and violation, according to an arrest report obtained by the Pensacola News-Journal. The round of charges related to the abuse case was filed on May 1.
Later Wednesday, Celaius was rushed to the hospital.
An Escambia County Jail representative confirmed that he had been taken to a hospital but said because of patient privacy laws, she could not discuss the reason for the transport other than to say it was not fatal and that Celaius remained hospitalized.
According to WEAR-TV, Celaius was found hanging in his cell. The outlet cited sources. He was originally scheduled to appear in court on the new charges on May 2, but that appearance appeared to have been delayed.