Fayetteville, AR (WMC) - An Arkansas mother and her boyfriend are in jail, accused of assaulting the woman's son in a jealous rage.
Melissa Miranda, 33, and Jouse Tovias were arrested Friday after police said her 8-year-old son was starved, abused, and handcuffed to furniture at their Fayetteville home, according to NBC affiliate KARK.
According to official documents, police saw the child with a scabbed injury on his right hand that resembled someone applying pressure to a handcuff while wearing it.
After investigating, police said Miranda abused the boy because she was jealous that her mother loved the boy more than she loved her. Miranda is a pregnant mother of four (aged between 5 and 17), but police said she singled out her 8-year-old for abuse.
Detectives interviewed staff at the boy's school who said the boy's appearance had been changing since November, and his eyes and cheeks had sunken in and his skin tone changed.
Staff also said the boy had been stealing and hoarding food; the school made the boy his own eating schedule to accommodate his extreme hunger.
Staff told police that when they called Miranda and Tovias to help the boy's situation, they became defensive.
Police interviewed the boy's siblings, who appeared to be healthy, and were given an audio recording from Miranda's 17-year-old daughter of Miranda disciplining the 8-year-old.
Within the recording was Miranda becoming mad at the boy for stealing candy and threatening him, saying 'I'll cut you," and threatening to abandon him. Tovias was also heard on the tape, indicating that he was there when the abuse was happening.
Miranda told police she felt regret about abusing the child and had experienced emotional turmoil when she found out Tovias was cheating on her in November.
Tovias told police he is the father of Miranda's 5-year-old and her unborn child.
The children have all been removed from the home and placed in foster care.
Miranda and Tovias are both charged with domestic battery, aggravated assault of a family member, endangering the welfare of a minor, tampering with physical evidence, kidnapping, and terroristic threatening. Tovias faces the charges as an accused accomplice, as well as a charge of permitting child abuse.