Tampa: John Hernandez and Natasha Dabbs arrested for locking child in closet

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) announced the arrest of a Tampa couple who admitted to locking a young boy in a closet for hours at a time.


On January 24, 2021, at 5:53 a.m., deputies were called to a Tampa home for reports of a missing child. Once at the residence deputies located the boy who had been hiding in the home. Deputies cleared the call.

A short time later, deputies returned to the scene to conduct an investigation into potential child abuse. The boy told deputies he has been handcuffed and forced to stand in a closet as a punishment. The boy said this “punishment” has been happening every day for about 16 hours a day for the past few weeks.

While talking with detectives, John Hernandez, 41, admitted to handcuffing the boy and putting him in the closet as a punishment for behavioral issues from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Natasha Dabbs, 37, told detectives she knew the punishment was taking place and did not try to prevent it. Dabbs says this has been happening since December 25, 2020.

Hernandez and Dabbs were arrested and booked into the Orient Road Jail.

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