According to records obtained by KTRK, authorities were made aware that the girls were malnourished. Department of Family and Protective Services reportedly provided their mother, Soledad Mendoza, with parenting guidance, nutritional assistance, and other help to ensure her children were properly nourished and healthy.
Authorities reportedly received complaints about the children’s possible neglect starting in October 2018.
In May 2019, there were reports that the twins were not properly fed. An August 2019 report said Mendoza didn’t allow teachers to provide the girls breakfast and lunch at school, telling them the children were eating at home, KTRK reports.
On Dec. 16, 2020, during virtual school, Melanie’s teacher reportedly noticed that she had a black eye. An investigator went to the home, but Mendoza told authorities her daughter was isolating and had a fever. Several days later, the 8-year-old died, police said.
According to KTRK, the surviving twin girl said her mother’s boyfriend, Ruben Moreno, would beat them, and their mother would kick them and cover them in trash bags. The mother would allegedly lock her twin girls in closets and discipline them if they tried to get food.
Assistant District Attorney Gilbert Sawtelle told KTRK the couple had two other kids living with them at the home during the twins’ abuse and neglect, but they were healthy.
Sawtelle added, "Her other kids were fine, and I don’t know the answer to exactly why, but when the living twin was asked why, she said it was because 'Mom told us she doesn’t love us' and 'We were ugly.'"
The surviving children in the home were reportedly placed into foster care.
Mendoza and Moreno were arrested on May 20 and charged with capital murder — under 10 years of age and injury to a child, police said.