The Arizona Department of Child Safety has responded to the arrest of a Phoenix couple accused of forcing their daughter to eat out of the trash, beating her with a tree branch and other forms of physical and emotional abuse.
37-year-old Melissa Nicole Loyd and 43-year-old Michael Edward Dugger were arrested earlier this month at their home near 43rd Avenue and Thomas Road.
DCS shows their department had a long history with the couple, including five reports between 2004 and 2012 of allegations of neglect by the parents against siblings of this victim.
The first three abuse allegations against the parents were ruled to be unsubstantiated, and the parents were then given “information on services available in the community,” according to DCS.
In 2006 the victim’s siblings were all removed from the home after the fourth abuse allegation was ruled to be substantiated, and when this victim was born in 2007 she was taken from the home as well.
DCS says after the family completed support services ordered by the court, the parents were reunited with all of their children in 2009 including the victim in this case who was two-years-old at the time.
The fifth allegation of child abuse was received in 2012, but was ruled to be unsubstantiated as well.
DCS also says that they first received a tip about the victim being abused on July 16, 2016 but it was an anonymous call, and they were unable to locate the family or the child because a valid address wasn’t given. The latest report, on October 3, 2016 did include an address and led to the arrests.
"The abuse of any child is heartbreaking, but a child nearly dying from chronic, long term abuse grieves the soul," said DCS Director Greg McKay. "We can all remember tragedies where lying abusers gamed the system and avoided detection. I'm just so grateful to our dedicated staff and vigilant police officers for saving this angel."
Police report that Loyd was already on lifetime probation for child abuse from a prior incident occurring years ago, involving another child, who is now an adult.
Both Loyd and Dugger are being held on $150,000 bond and facing 17 counts of child abuse.
McKay concluded, "We all owe this child our very best. Healing, comfort, safety, advocacy, and justice; I have no doubt, we'll deliver just that."