It was just another afternoon at the In-Shape Health Club in Tracy back on Dec. 1, 2008. That was until the terrified teenager staggered in wearing only his boxer shorts and a chain around one of his ankles.
"He was just totally afraid of what was going to happen, what was going on. And then when we went to take him into the office to get him out the front area, we noticed that he had a large chain around his foot," said Chuck Ellis, general manager of the In Shape Health Club.
Then 16-years-old, the boy had just escaped from the Tracy home where he had been held captive and brutalized for more than a year.
After he made the break, he ran toward the nearby health club where employees called for help. A court order had prevented them from talking about that day until now.
"We change lives all the time, with somebody losing some weight or working out from a heart attack or things like that. But in this case here, it was a tragedy that happened to fall on our doorstep and we were so happy to help the individual," said Ellis.
Last week a San Joaquin County jury convicted neighbor Anthony Waiters of torture. Earlier, three others who lived with the teen accepted plea bargain deals including Michael Schumacher, his wife Kelly Lau, and his then guardian Caren Ramirez.
The teenager testified he was being punished for bossing the couple's children and badmouthing Waiters' brother. The health club employees are grateful they were there to help with the rescue.
"I wish him the best and hopefully he continues on with his education because I know he's looking at going into college. Hopefully his life just keeps getting better," said Ellis.
Life will not get better for the four who were convicted. They're scheduled to go before a judge in the coming weeks to hear their sentences which could range between 30 years to life in prison.