Florida police said parents of a 2-year-old starved her to death despite there being plenty of food in the home, and the mother is pregnant again.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd relayed the horrifying details about the incident to reporters in a media briefing.
Police were called to a home in Davenport after the child had stopped breathing. They said they found her unresponsive in a playpen made from an inflatable pool.
They interviewed 35-year-old Arhonda Tillman and 37-year-old Regis Johnson, the parents of the child.
“Regis Johnson told us the baby ate a sandwich yesterday, and some chicken nuggets,” Judd said, but that information was contradicted by the medical examiner who said there was no food found in the baby’s stomach.
Investigators said the parents were well fed, and that there was plenty of food in the home.
“If you can imagine looking at such a heartbreaking sight. Basically it was just bones and skin. There aren’t adequate words to express our frustration and sadness,” Judd told reporters. “We probably have the same questions you do. Did no one else see this child in this condition? This child didn’t just get sick and pass.”
Judd said the baby had been born healthy at a weight of 6 pounds and 10 ounces in 2019.
Nearly three years later, the baby had only gained three pounds for a total of nine pounds.
“The baby should have been talking, putting sentences together, asking questions, running jumping and playing,” Judd explained. “When this baby died on May 10, she couldn’t stand, she couldn’t talk, she couldn’t walk.”
Police arrested Tillman and Johnson for negligent child abuse, but Judd said more charges were possible. Johnson’s brother, 64-year-old Frank Robinson, was also arrested after investigators concluded that he knew about the neglect and did nothing to alleviate it for months.
A judge set the couple’s bond at $500,000 each.
Judd said that their goal was to make sure Tillman wouldn’t have the chance to starve her second baby.
“It is unbelievable what we saw,” said Judd.