Florida mother put bleach in her baby’s bottle to feed her instead of formula, officials say

Francis Akhalbey June 06, 2024
Melissa Barnes has been charged with child abuse and child neglect -- Photo Credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Authorities in Florida have brought charges against a mother who allegedly put bleach – instead of baby formula – in a bottle and gave it to a family member to feed her 13-month-old child. 

Per WPEC, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said the incident happened on January 2, and the relative noticed the bottle 22-year-old Melissa Barnes gave her to feed her baby contained bleach.

“This case is deeply disturbing. No child deserves to be subjected to such dangerous and neglectful conditions,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

The family member in question noticed Barnes and her baby were staying in a “cold, cluttered, and unsanitary” shed that had no power, the HCSO said in the statement. Authorities also said the relative noticed the bottle contained bleach after the baby declined to consume its contents when she attempted to feed the minor.

The relative ultimately spoke with Barnes about the bleach, and the suspect told her that she had rinsed the bottle with the poisonous chemical, per the HCSO. The Department of Children and Families ultimately took custody of Barnes’ baby and placed her under the care of a different family member, WPEC reported.

HCSO detectives also searched the shed where Barnes and her baby were staying after obtaining a warrant. The detectives found bleach-based disinfectant and paint in the shed, leading authorities to ultimately arrest Barnes on Tuesday after her warrant was issued on May 28.

“The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is committed to protecting our community’s most vulnerable, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that those who harm children are held accountable,” Chronister said.

Barnes has been charged with child abuse and child neglect. In April, Face2Face Africa reported that Florida authorities had announced their intention to seek the death penalty for a woman who allegedly forced her two children to drink bleach before killing one of her minors, which was her 3-year-old daughter.

According to WTSP, Osceola County deputies arrested Joanne Zephir on May 8, 2022, after she allegedly stabbed her husband and made her two children drink bleach. She then fatally strangled her 3-year-old daughter. The other minor who consumed the bleach was aged 8 at the time. The minor survived alongside Zephir’s husband.

In the wake of the incident, Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez said Zephir admitted to the crime and claimed a “voodoo spell” made her harm her children

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 6, 2024


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