Neighbor arrested in Tracy torture case

December 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A bizarre and unbelievably brutal case is getting even stranger. On Tuesday night police arrested a fourth person in the torture of a 16-year-old boy who escaped a Tracy home last week. Anthony Waiters lives next door to the house where police say the boy was held hostage for more than a year. Police allege he also beat and tortured the 16-year old boy.

Neighbors said Waiters was well acquainted with the other people accused of abusing the boy. They also said he was one of the few people who spent time inside their house while the alleged abuse was taking place.

29-year-old Waiters was charged with torture, conspiracy, child endangerment, corporal injury to a child and false imprisonment. These are the same charges against his neighbors, Michael Schumaker, Michael's wife Kelly Lau, and their house guest, Caren Ramirez who was the legal guardian of the abused boy.

Earlier on Tuesday Tracy Police searched the home of Schumaker and Lau, then they turned their search next door where Waiters, lives with his mother. They removed several items from his home including a bottle of bleach and a computer.

Investigators also confiscated two aluminum bats from the Schumaker's house. At Waiter's home tonight, ABC7's Alan Wang broke the news to his aunt.

"No. I don't believe that. I don't believe that at all. I don't know, now I think it's a witch hunt. I don't know," said Ernessa Waiters, Anthony Waiters' aunt.

In an exclusive jailhouse interview with Lau, she told ABC7 Ramirez heated up the bat in the fire place and burned the boy. For 15 months the boy claims he was starved, tortured, chained to the coffee table and forced to crouch in the fireplace.

All the while, Lau told ABC7 that she, her husband, and their four children carried on with their daily lives around him. She also admitted that she and her husband also took part in the beatings, and now police say the next-door neighbor, Anthony Waiters, was in on it too.

"Oh no. It's just so hard to believe. Like I said I've seen him grow up since he was 10 years old at least," said Mary Wagener, a neighbor.

"Like I said, he was good friends with them. They were there together," said Mike Portillo, a neighbor.
"He was in the house?" asked Wang.
"Oh yes, at times he would be there just visiting most of the time," said Portillo.

Waiters was arrested on Tuesday in Pleasanton, where he works at the Bay East Realtors Association.

He also used to work at the In-Shape Sport Fitness Center located behind his house. It's the same place where the boy escaped to, after hopping over a backyard wall with a chain still locked to his ankle.

A Tracy Police spokesperson told ABC7 that Wang's jailhouse interview prompted a judge to issue a gag order and that is why police can't say how they believe waiters tortured and beat the child.

Wang spoke with Waiters in his driveway the day after the boy escaped and asked him if he knew the family. Waiters said in a very stoic voice, "No. I mind my own business."

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