“You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself,” Canadian poet Margaret Atwood once said, and for 33-year-old Melissa Miranda, her mother’s love for her grandchild was that something.
Miranda and her boyfriend Josue Tovias, 28, were placed under arrest Saturday and charged with permitting child abuse, second-degree domestic battery, first-degree terroristic threatening, aggravated assault on a family or household member, kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence, KFSM reported.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Miranda, who has five children, sought punishment for her 8-year-old son after becoming jealous that the child’s grandmother had more love for him than her.
She would reportedly put the child in timeout as punishment, but the boy would refuse, and instead steal junk food from the kitchen.
WREG reported that as a result of this, Miranda and Tovias started handcuffing the boy to a school desk in the family living room from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., and allegedly forced the boy to sleep in a trash bag because he would have to go to the bathroom during the eight hours he would be locked to the desk.
While Tovias denies the allegations, the school staff of which the boy attended noted that the child’s appearance had changed drastically from November 2017.
School staff revealed to local police that the boy’s behavior also began to drastically change in late 2017. He reportedly was observed eating leftover food from trash cans and stealing food from his peers, WREG reported.
The child’s observed hunger even prompted the school to provide an alternative lunch schedule for him.
His extreme hunger was also observed by police during interviews conducted with the boy and his siblings at the Children’s Safety Center. Authorities discovered that the child had a distended stomach and his ribs and other bones in his chest were visible.
Moreover, police discovered injuries to the child’s wrist, back and spine.
The child’s sister provided police with a recording that was allegedly taken inside the home.
On the tape Miranda can reportedly be heard threatening to cut her son and have him left out in the cold to be arrested for stealing. As noted in the affidavit, Miranda would tell her son “thieves get their fingers cut off” while holding a knife to him.
The same sister who provided the recording to authorities also revealed that the mother allegedly forced the child to sit and read by himself at dinner.
Miranda and Tovias were arrested on Friday when they arrived at the child’s school to pick him up, according to WREG.
DHS has reportedly taken custody of the five children while Miranda and Tovias are being held at the Washington County Detention Center on separate bonds of $50,000.
Their hearings are both set for Feb. 28 in Washington County Circuit Court.
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