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A man from Florida's Gulf Coast has been arrested for allegedly putting on a werewolf mask and repeatedly abusing the 2-year-old daughter of his girlfriend.
"We’re comforted to some degree by the thought that this precious child will not be harmed tonight," Chief Deputy Chip Simmons of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office told reporters.
The suspect, Andrew Bennett Ross-Celaius, 37, previously stood trial for the 2006 murder of another 2-year-old, but a jury found him not guilty, NBC News affiliate WPMI in nearby Mobile, Alabama reported.
Ross-Celaius was arrested on suspicion of aggravated child abuse, child abuse and possession of a controlled substance, authorities said.
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference Wednesday that he found the abuse at times to be "indescribable."
"It’s the thing that nightmares are made of," he said. "No child should ever be subjected to this."
Ross-Celaius suspect allegedly threw bottles partially filled with liquid at the girl as she slept, fired an airsoft gun at her, put an electrified dog training collar on her and shocked her and used a grill lighter to burn her, authorities said. He sometimes wore a werewolf mask during the abuse, they said.
Simmons described it as "systematic harassment, if not torture." Morgan called it "terror."
"While the abuse was occurring he was holding the cellphone, and recording from the cellphone," the sheriff said.
Sheriff's officials allege that when the victim's mother recently took the girl to a hospital to treat what she thought was ringworm, medical professionals discovered burn marks they said were the result of abuse.
Investigators believe the mother was unaware of the diagnosed abuse, but she was arrested for alleged neglect and has since bonded out of jail, Morgan said.
Further investigation revealed cellphone and home surveillance video of Ross-Celaius abusing the toddler, sheriff's officials said. The evidence indicates the abuse went on for at least months, although investigators said they were still reviewing video.
"Additional charges will result as this investigation continues," Morgan said.
He said it was "unconfirmed" whether the girl had been sexually assaulted.
Another Florida man, Eric Furnan, 36, was arrested for allegedly destroying evidence after Ross-Celaius called him from jail and asked him to do it, sheriff's officials said.