A Texas woman faces capital murder charges after police said she suffocated her fiance's daughter, then tried to cover up the killing by claiming she had been raped in a home invasion that turned out to be staged.
Melinda Lynn Muniz, 25, was arrested Tuesday following a police investigation into the death of Grace Lillian Ford, her fiance's 2-year-old.
Muniz reportedly called her fiance claiming she had been attacked at home on Jan. 9. The man found Muniz with her mouth taped shut and her pants pulled down. Grace was found in her crib with her mouth taped shut.
Responders said Grace's lips and face were blue, but her body was still warm. The little girl died three days later, and her death was ruled a homicide.
Muniz told investigators she had been raped by an unknown male, but police soon identified conflicts in her story and said it was "inconsistent" with what they found. Lab results showed no signs she was sexually assaulted, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
The investigation also recovered surveillance video from a Dollar Tree store where Muniz had gone to purchase zip ties, kitchen shears and cotton swabs about 40 minutes before she called her fiance, claiming she'd been attacked. The footage showed that Muniz had Grace with her at the store.
"She took the child with her to purchase the items that she was going to use during the commission of the crime," Plano police spokesman David Tilley told WFAA. "Clearly premeditated."
"God will make sure justice is served to the fullest. What this monster did is as evil as it can get. There is no excuse," Ford's family said in a statement obtained by the station.
The victim's father told police that he had broken up with Muniz on the day his daughter died, according to NBC-DFW. Police said the couple had argued that morning.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Child Protective Services had looked into abuse or neglect allegations involving Grace four times prior to her death, but that each time "CPS either ruled out the allegations or was unable to determine if they were valid."
Muniz was held at Plano City Jail on $1 million bond.