A Haines City man allegedly held a family of five hostage for three months in their Davenport home, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
reports Larry Gene Howard,
Photo via Polk County Sheriff's Office
29, was arrested May 7 after Richard Collins called 911 and told officials he and his two nieces and two nephews were being held captive in their home by Howard, according to reports. The children range in age from 5 to 13 years old.
Collins told deputies he met Howard when a distant relative came to visit him and brought Howard with him three months ago. After a couple days, Collins says Howard came to the Davenport home again, this time with his four children, saying they were homeless and needed a place to stay, the Ledger
When Collins refused, Howard allegedly took out his shotgun, pointed it toward Collins and said he was going to "lay down the rules," according to the report. Collins told deputies Howard would only allow his nieces to go to school, saying if they told anyone, he would kill the rest of the family; took Collins' cellphone and monthly disability payment; and verbally threatened the family with numerous guns and swords. Howard's underage girlfriend, who is not being charged, moved into the Davenport house as well, according to the Ledger
When the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) arrived at the house to look for Howard and his children, according to reports. Collins, who was "too afraid" of Howard, did not tell DCF where he was hiding. After Howard went into another room, Collins told deputies he and his family escaped and called officials, the Ledger
Polk County deputies found Howard in the crawl space of the house on May 7 and took him to the Polk County jail. Howard faces 24 charges, including
aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of armed kidnapping, five counts of false imprisonment, four counts of robbery with a firearm and four counts of child abuse.