Three people were arrested after the death of a 34-month-old girl who weighed less than 10 kilograms, including the child’s parents.
His parents, Regis Johnson, 57, and Arhonda Tillman, 35, were arrested Thursday and are being held without bail on child abuse charges, CBS Miami reported. Her uncle Frank Robinson, 64, who lived in the same house, was also arrested on charges of negligent child abuse and failure to report child abuse, according to the network.
Polk County, Florida, police found the child dead in an inflatable pool used as a playpen on Tuesday, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office. The girl’s father called authorities after finding her “cold to the touch and not breathing,” the sheriff’s department said.
The Florida Department of Children and Families investigated the family for medical malpractice starting in 2019 because the child was losing weight and her parents were not seeing her doctor, officials said, but the investigation ended when the child gained weight. The girl’s pediatrician told investigators her last visit was in January 2020, and the office tried to follow up with her parents, officials said.
Both the child’s father and mother told investigators that they had tried to feed the girl. According to the sheriff’s office, Johnson told detectives that the girl hadn’t wanted to eat for the past two days, only taking a few bites when he tried to feed her. Tillman said in an interview with detectives that she tried to feed the child a turkey sandwich Monday night before bed, but the victim would not eat, the sheriff’s office said.
Johnson also told detectives that he knew his daughter was “not gaining weight and not developing normally” and that he “knew the victim was losing weight and not thriving” and had not yet sought medical attention, officials said.
Tillman told detectives there was a concern that the child might have cystic fibrosis. An autopsy performed on Wednesday showed there was no food in the child’s stomach and she suffered from long-term starvation.
Prison records did not list an attorney for Johnson, Tillman or Robinson, CBS Miami reported.
“This is egregious and should never have happened,” Sheriff Grady Judd said Thursday, noting that there are resources for parents who don’t want their children. “Because of the actions of these parents, this little girl will never have the opportunity to grow up.”