Police have found the skeletal remains of an infant whose parents failed to report him missing, leaving 18 months to pass before anyone looked for him. Dontrell Melvin, who was last seen when he was about five-months-old, finally received attention from police this week when a child welfare worker went to the parent’s home on an unrelated case.
Police say they learned of the disappearance on Wednesday night, when a child services worker went to the toddler’s home in Hallandale Beach to check on an unrelated case. Investigators said when the worker arrived, she noticed one of the children was unaccounted for.
Investigators said that the boy’s father changed his story multiple times, once claiming that he took advantage of the safe harbor statute and left the child in the bay of the fire station in his stroller after knocking on several doors. Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy said he did not buy that story. Detectives said that the mother, Britney Sierra, called police last October and complained she hadn’t seen Dontrelle in a year and that Melvin wouldn’t tell her where the child was. A police officer then called DCF, but police did not launch their own investigation. No reason has been given
The arrests of Calvin Melvin Jr., 27, and Brittney Sierra, 21, were announced by police earlier Friday, before remains were found at a residence that the couple had previously lived. The parents were held on child neglect charges after they allegedly admitted they failed to provide adequate care for the child, Flournoy said.
The property’s new resident, Mahmud Lama, moved into the small green house with a chain link fence about six months ago. Lama said his Labrador retriever used to spend hours digging in the spot where authorities were digging. He later saw detectives remove a wooden box from the yard and officials carried away the small remains on a stretcher.
The case is quickly bringing new attention and criticism to the Department of Children and Families(DCF), Florida’s child welfare agency.
Hallandale Beach police were called to the family home last year regarding a domestic incident, and learned that Dontrell was gone. In a report at the time, The Miami Herald says police wrote, “It is not known if the child is alive.” The report was forwarded to DCF’s abuse hotline, according to the Herald, and was “screened out,” or deemed not worthy of follow-up.
Skeletal Remains Found In Dontrell Melvin Case in Couple’s Yard Who Neglected To Report Infant Went Missing 18-Months Ago