Even the most seasoned members of law enforcement were deeply disturbed by video evidence of the torture a 2-year-old little girl endured. The toddler was terrorized with a torch, shock collar, and even a werewolf mask for months. It’s her abuser’s history, however, that makes the case even worse.
Andrew Bennett Ross Celaius, a 37-year-old Florida man also known as “Ben Ross,” was arrested and charged with torturing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter after 27-year-old Maranda Lyn Mixson took her child to the ER. The mother suspected the toddler had ringworm, but unfortunately, the round marks on her little body were burns. That was only the beginning of countless horrific discoveries law enforcement would uncover.
“When she took the child to the ER, the ER physicians, who are well versed in spotting child abuse, quickly determined that was not any form of ringworm. It was abuse,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. “In this case, it was burn marks.”
When Mixson was asked about the marks, she “was very hostile and stated the circle marks were ringworm,” according to an arrest report. But, the burn marks weren’t the only problem. Mixson’s daughter also had bruises on her stomach, back, arms, elbows, legs, and forehead, as well as a large bruise across her throat, which appeared to be a rope burn.
“It’s the thing nightmares are made of and no child should ever be subjected to this,” Morgan said, describing a case of torture so disturbing that three adults were thrown behind bars. Shockingly, the heinous abuse was all captured on video by none other than the child’s bold abuser. “If you want to think of something you could do to a child to terrorize her, this child lived through that,” the sheriff said.
The video evidence:
After investigators went to the child’s home and spotted surveillance equipment and cameras, they obtained search warrants. What they found was horrifying, according to Chief Deputy Chip Simmons. “We found some systematic harassment, if not torture, of a 2-year-old child as this child tried to sleep,” Simmons said.
The sheriff’s office found a substantial amount of video and photo evidence of abuse that the sheriff characterized as “indescribable.” The footage, which may have been shared with other people, was captured on home surveillance and cellphone video and stored in the cloud. It showed Ross Celaius throwing bottles at the sleeping child to wake her up, striking her and making her cry. He also burned the child with a blow torch and shot her with an airsoft gun “for no other reason but to wake the child up and to hurt the child,” Simmons said.
According to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, the most disturbing video showed Ross Celaius making the child wear a dog’s electric shock collar. The recording captured the child shrieking as the shock collar was triggered. “You can hear the sounds of the dog collar being activated, and then the shrieking and the pain that the child has suffered as a result of this,” Simmons said.
“There’s no words to describe why someone would hurt and intentionally damage and harass someone just trying to sleep. It’s a terrible thing to see,” Simmons added. “I have been in law enforcement for over 30 years, and when I looked at the evidence that we saw here, me and members of my staff were speechless,” he said. “When you look at this, it hits you in the heart and you wonder how anyone can be so mean.”
A previous record:
Proving that Andrew Bennett Ross Celaius is indeed a monster of the worst kind, the man sometimes wore a werewolf mask during the abuse to further traumatize the little girl. But, perhaps the worst revelation in this already unbelievable case is the fact that Ross Celaius was charged with murder in the June 24, 2006, death of 2-year-old Kyler Janes.
The boy was hospitalized with bruises all over his body and bleeding in his brain and eyes. He had been seen five times before his death for a variety of injuries in the same emergency room as Mixson’s daughter at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola. Ross Celaius was tried for his murder but found not guilty by a jury.
Charges in the current case:
Andrew Bennett Ross Celaius has been charged with probation violation, possession of a weapon, marijuana possession, drug equipment, drugs-health-safety, drug possession, 6 counts of aggravated child abuse, 4 counts of child abuse, and 3 counts of possession of a controlled substance.
Another man, Eric Everett Furnans, 36, was also arrested in connection with the case, accused of tampering with evidence. Ross Celaius called Furnans from jail and asked him to destroy cellphones that contained images of the alleged abuse. Maranda Lyn Mixson was arrested as well, charged with neglect, but she bonded out. The sheriff’s office believes she was unaware of the abuse and said she is fully cooperating with the investigation.
Suspect tries to escape justice:
As the sheriff’s office combs through the evidence found on multiple storage drives, they are investigating the possibility of sexual abuse. It is not only possible but likely that Andrew Bennett Ross Celaius will face additional charges. Seeming to realize he is doomed, however, the inmate apparently tried to escape justice by attempting to kill himself.
While in protective custody because of the allegations against him, Ross Celaius was found hanging in his cell in the Escambia County Jail hours after the child abuse charges were formally announced. He was reportedly hospitalized but alive. Further details on his condition were not made public.
There is a bright side:
Although this case is beyond horrific and the terror this toddler faced is unimaginably traumatizing, there is one bright side to this entire ordeal in which Chief Deputy Simmons and his investigators have taken comfort.
“The only saving grace that I can say is that, at the end of this, at the conclusion of this investigation, we are comforted to some degree by the thought that this precious child will not be harmed tonight,” Simmons said. “Not tonight.”