Mother and her boyfriend charged in starvation, torture of 8-year-old twins, resulting in one’s death
HOUSTON (KTRK) – Horrifying abuse allegations are being made against a Texas woman and her boyfriend.
The two are accused of starving her 8-year-old twin girls, to the point where one child died.
At one point in 2020, four kids lived in an apartment in northwest Houston. However, prosecutors say Soledad Mendoza and Ruben Moreno only took care of two children.
The 8-year-old twin girls were abused and starved. Just days before Christmas, one of the twins, Melanie Mendoza, died.
Prosecutor Gilbert Sawtelle said the living twin could hardly walk when she was found and was well below the growth curve for her age.
“When you see images of these two girls, it breaks your heart,” he said. “Nobody should have to go through that, certainly not for as long as they have been through it.”
Sawtelle said the abuse apparently began when the girls and their mother were living in San Antonio.
“It didn’t happen overnight. It took years,” he said.
Child Protective Services records show a harrowing history for the girls. The first complaint of possible neglect was filed in San Antonio in 2018.
In May 2019, there were reports that the twins were underfed.
In August of that year, a report stated the mother wouldn’t let teachers give the girls breakfast and lunch at school.
On December 16, 2020, a Houston teacher noticed Melanie had a black eye during a virtual class.
The mother told CPS that Melanie had a fever and would not let the investigator inside the home. The girl died just five days later.
The surviving twin remembered it all, Sawtelle said.
“She said that Ruben Moreno would beat them with a belt, with a shoe, mom would kick them, put them in trash bags covering their heads. She would lock them in closets, and they would be disciplined for trying to get food,” he said.
After Melanie’s death, the couple moved to a different apartment complex nearby. Their other children, including the surviving twin and a newborn, were all put in foster care.
“Her other kids were fine, and I don’t know the answer to exactly why, but when the living twin was asked why, she said it was because ‘Mom told us she doesn’t love us and we were ugly,’” Sawtelle said.
Prosecutors say even though it took two years to arrest Mendoza and Moreno, they are confident they can now get justice for Melanie.
The mother is being held on $1 million bond while the boyfriend has no bond on the murder charge.
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