For children, home should be a safe haven, away from the daily struggles of school. But for many children, this is not the case. Home can be a place of secret abuse and fear.
Melissa Miranda, 33, and her boyfriend, Josue Tovias, 28, shared a home along with Miranda’s four children. What happened behind closed doors would shock the community.
Police received a tip from the state Department of Human Services of suspected child abuse going on in the home. They immediately began to investigate.
The allegations involved Miranda’s 8-year-old son.
The police began by talking to teachers and staff at the boy’s elementary school. They confirmed that the boy’s appearance had changed dramatically in a short period of time. His cheeks were sunken in and he seemed pale.
The school staff also said that the boy was seen eating from trash bins. The school had contacted Miranda and asked about the boy but she would not give any information.
The police conducted an interview with the boy and his siblings and found injuries to the boy’s wrists consistent with wearing handcuffs.
He was also extremely underweight. But when the boy’s sister brought out a recording that she had taken in the home, police had all the evidence they needed.
As police listened to the recording, they heard Miranda threatening to cut off the boys fingers because he was so hungry he had begun to steal food.
She threatened to cut him and leave him out in the cold.
It was a tragic and heartbreaking story and one that continued as the boy’s sister told the police how their mother starved the boy, handcuffing him to a desk for hours. He had only been allowed to eat about three meals a week.
There were other abuses. Not allowed to use the bathroom, the boy often slept on plastic bags while remaining handcuffed to the desk. The police had enough evidence to arrest Miranda and her boyfriend.
Police conducted surveillance at the school and when Miranda, now pregnant with her fifth child, came to pick up her son, she was arrested.
She admitted to the abuse saying that she was disappointed in herself. When asked why she would do such horrible things to her son her answer was shocking.
Miranda claimed that she abused her 8-year-old out of jealousy. She believed that her mother loved the boy more that she loved her own daughter.
Miranda’s boyfriend denied any involvement in the abuse but it would be difficult to imagine him not seeing it while living in the home. DHS has taken the children into custody and hopefully they will now be safe.
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