Mom Reportedly Starved Son Because She Was Jealous His Grandma 'Loved Him More'

Fayetteville Police

An Arkansas mother of five and her boyfriend were arrested on charges of child abuse late last week, after the woman's 8-year-old son was found starved and injured. Now, the woman is claiming that her motive behind the horrific abuse was steeped in jealousy over his relationship with her mother.


KFSM reports that 33-year-old Melissa Miranda and 28-year-old Josue Tovias were arrested on Saturday, January 27, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They are facing charges of kidnapping, second-degree domestic battery, permitting child abuse, first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor, aggravated assault on a family or household member, first-degree terroristic threatening, and tampering with physical evidence. 

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Officials have said that Miranda -- who is pregnant and has four other children -- admitted to mercilessly singling out her 8-year-old son because she was jealous that her mother loved him more than her. According to an affidavit obtained by KFSM, Miranda claimed the boy refused to stay in time-out and stole junk food from the kitchen. This drove her to allow Tovias, the biological father of two of her other children, to handcuff him to a school desk in the family's home between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. every day.

Miranda also confessed that she got tired of waking to uncuff him and take him to the bathroom every night. After he reportedly stained the family's carpet a few times, Miranda began making him sleep on trash bags.


The mom allegedly said she allowed her son to eat only about three nights a week for months. When police found the 8-year-old, he was reportedly extremely skinny with the bones in his chest and ribs visible. They also found injuries on his wrist caused by the handcuffs, as well as injuries to his back and spine. 

The abuse was discovered after Fayetteville Police received a tip from the Department of Human Services. After speaking with teachers and administrators at the boys' school, law enforcement learned that the child's appearance and behavior had been on a decline for months. They also admitted that teachers saw him eating out of the trash and stealing other students' food multiple times. This caused officials at the school to create alternative eating schedules to accommodate the 8-year-old's hunger. Administrators told police that the boy's parents were "evasive" when confronted. 

Law enforcement also reportedly received a cell phone recording from the boy's 17-year-old sister that showed Miranda threatening to cut the boy's fingers off, leave him out in the cold, and have him arrested for stealing. 

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KFSM reports that Miranda admitted to needing help but says she was afraid to come forward due to the possibility of getting prison time. Miranda said that she threatened to abuse her other four children if they told anyone about what was happening in the home.

Police say that Department of Human Services has taken custody of the children and Miranda and Tovias have hearings set for February 28.

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