Update: The State Attorney’s Office on April 8, 2022, announced it would not prosecute Nikki Alicia Warner.
An anonymous caller reported to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office that in midafternoon on March 18, a young child could be heard “screaming and crying, along with what sounded like someone spanking the child,” just outside a Pine Grove Drive home in Palm Coast where a 32-year-old woman babysits several children in addition to her own five.
Video surveillance and the homeowner’s testimony would later indicate that the mother of one of the children–not the babysitter–drug him by his feet to the door, picked him up, took him outside, and beat him repeatedly, did so again moments later after the child did not follow the mother’s directions inside, and beat him yet again, this time with a shoe, before leaving the house. The boy has a little sister who was also at the babysitter’s house and who, when it came time to leave, “began screaming, crying and reaching for” the babysitter.
The mother, Nikki Alicia Warner, 29, of Spruce Street in Bunnell, was charged with a count of felony child abuse, booked at the Flagler County jail, released on a $1,500 bond and an order to have no contact with the boy pending the resolution of the case. The order does not apply to the boy’s sister.
While Warner was in the deputy’s patrol car and the deputy was on the phone with the Department of Children and Families, Warner’s husband, Victor Warner, was speaking with his wife. “If you whooped his ass you whooped his ass,” the husband is quoted as telling his wife, according to her arrest report. “The boy needs his ass whooped.”
“I did what any mom would do,” Warner told a sheriff’s deputy. Asked to clarify, she replied: “I spanked my son.” She said she did so “five or six times,” and may have left a couple of marks on the boy’s butt. She told the deputy that her son has “behavioral issues,” including attention deficit disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.
Warner had been called to the babysitter’s home last Friday afternoon after her son had become upset over not getting to have another child’s iPad. The boy became disruptive, kicking doors and throwing things. But he then calmed down, and only screamed to say he didn’t want his mother to come over, according to the account the babysitter gave the deputy. When his mother arrived, she told her son to go outside. He refused. That’s when she allegedly dragged him, then picked him up “like a baby” and took him outside.
The babysitter described hearing the boy screaming and crying as he was struck five times. Surveillance video would show the boy’s mother striking him five times on his bottom with an open hand, pausing to yell at him as he stayed on the ground, then striking him again on his bottom and legs, yelling more, then hitting him and smacking him as he covered his face and tucked in his knees defensively.
“She wasn’t just spanking the kid,” the babysitter told the deputy after reviewing the video, “she was beating the poor child.” (Even a “spanking,” however, is the definition of a beating.)
Mother and child then walked back in. The boy was upset. As Warner spoke with the babysitter, she also told her child to be quiet, got in his face, then took him outside again for another beating, according to the arrest report. “The second surveillance footage shows [Warner] carrying [the child] outside the residence by his hands and lifting him off the ground, until she sets him down and begins to smack him once again with an open hand near his buttocks,” the report states. Before walking away, “it appears she smacks [the boy] one more time with an open hand near his face. In the surveillance footage, [Warner] is observed smacking [the child] a total of 10 times before walking away and leaving him lying on the ground.”
Back in the house, mother and child again were in a back-and-forth argument, this time about the boy not wanting to put on his shoes, until the babysitter “witnessed [Warner] hit him twice with his shoe.” She then started to carry him out. He was saying something to her. She put him down, took off her own shoe, and reduced her son to the fetal position. (The report does not make clear whether the scenes took place in the presence of other children.)
The boy was upset because he did not want to go home, according to the babysitter’s account. When his mother went to the car to put away the children’s items, the boy said: “She’s gonna get my belt. I don’t want her to get my belt.”
DCF also subsequently investigated. The child showed “the different marks on him and how he got each of them,” according to the report. There were two marks on the left side of his stomach, near his hips. That was from his mother striking him with a belt, he told the investigator (he used the word “spanking”). As he was giving the DCF investigator a description of the incident, he got off his bed, walked to a dresser, and grabbed the belt he said his mother used against him. He also described the incident at the babysitter’s, saying they went outside after “she dragged me.” After that beating, in the car, he said his mother spoke “mean words” to him, but he would not say what those words were. “I can’t say it,” he told the investigator.
The investigator created a safety plan for the child and left it at the residence with Warner’s boyfriend, Kyle Hare.
Abuse Hotline: Report Abuse Online
The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports 24 hours a day and 7 days a week of known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment and reports of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Please use the links below to report a child or adult abuse.
If you suspect or know of a child or vulnerable adult in immediate danger, call 911.
TTY: 711 or
Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare is a mandatory reporter. § 39.201(1)(a), Florida Statutes.
To report an allegation in Spanish or Creole, please call 1-800-962-2873, for TTY use 711 or 1-800-955-8771. This toll free number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with counselors waiting to assist you.