Police Caller Told Abuse Hotline in October That Dontrell Melvin Was Missing: DCF

DCF Secretary David Wilkins said there was no allegation of abuse or child neglect in the hotline report

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A DCF report released Monday showed that when a Hallandale Beach Police officer called the Florida Abuse Hotline in October 2012, it wasn't known where Dontrell Melvin was or if he was alive. A person who called in a complaint Jan. 8 made allegations of child neglect in his family's home. (Published Monday, Jan 14, 2013)

    A Hallandale Beach Police officer told the Florida Abuse Hotline in October 2012 that a missing baby boy, Dontrell Melvin, had not been seen since 2011, authorities said Monday.

    The officer reported that Brittney Sierra hadn’t seen her son since July 2011.

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    “I mean, I don’t know how persistent she was in seeing her child. She still talks on and off with the father but every time she asks about the baby he is just always making excuses and never brings the baby by," the officer said in the call, which was released by the Department of Children and Families. "So she doesn’t even know, I mean, whether the baby is even alive or not."

    The boy was 5 months old when he was last seen around July 2011, according to police.

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    Sierra, 21, and Calvin Melvin Jr., 27, are being held on child neglect charges in their son’s case. Police said Friday that remains that were consistent with those of an infant were found at the property where Sierra and Melvin once lived.

    "The call clearly indicates a missing child report, which this agency does not have the legal authority to investigate. Missing children and cases of criminal activity are under the authority of law enforcement unless child abuse or neglect is suspected," DCF Secretary David Wilkins said in a statement. "There was no allegation of abuse or neglect of this child in the October 2012 Hotline report."

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    But, Wilkins added, the information from the call proved "instrumental" to a child protective investigator, who used the informatoin to determine that Dontrell could not be located – and in turn notified law enforcement.

    "This entire department and every employee is deeply saddened each time we hear about the death of an innocent child," Wilkins said. "We will continue to work closely with the Hallandale Beach Police Department and the Broward County Sheriff's Office on their respective investigations."

    Earlier Monday, a Broward judge determined that there was probable cause for authorities to remove four young children from Dontrell's grandmother, Renee Menendez.

    Menendez has six children, including Sierra, who police say is a suspect, along with Melvin, in the possible death of their son.

    At the time that Dontrell went missing, Sierra, Melvin and their children lived at 106 NW 1st St. with Menendez, her fiancé Keno Hodges and their four kids, authorities said.

    Judge Kenneth Gillespie said Monday that there was probable cause for authorities to take away Menendez’ four young children and put them in Department of Children and Families custody, which happened Saturday.

    A child protective investigator revealed in court what occurred during supervised visitation this weekend.

    “The father came to the visitation. He smelled of alcohol, and they were arguing," she said of Menendez and Hodges.

    The judge in turn ordered Menendez and Hodges to have no contact with their children until the results of the criminal investigation, and said the parents would be part of the investigation.

    As the couple left the courthouse, their attorney said they would not make any comment.

    Police said they have responded to the NW 1st St. house at least 15 times since 2006, with 10 of those visits related to domestic violence.

    A total of six children are now in state custody related to the investigation of Dontrell's disappearance, including Sierra's two kids besides the missing boy.

    DCF documents released Monday revealed a paper trail of problems in the home of Dontrell's family.

    At least three people called in complaints, including an anonymous caller who phoned the abuse hotline on Jan. 8, according to the documents.

    "I am calling because they are neglecting the children, and smoking drugs in front of the children, they curse them out so bad, and call them all kind of names,” said the person, whose voice was distorted for privacy in a released audio recording.

    The earliest report came in March 2011, when DCF received reports of unsupervised children crossing busy roads to get home. That case was resolved, when Dontrell's grandmother agreed to work directly with school officials, the documents show.

    Police continued to dig in the backyard of the Hallandale Beach home in search of more evidence Monday.

    Police said Monday night that the remains found last week were wrapped, and that they are closer to confirming their identity. The next step is DNA confirmation, police said.

    Sierra is being held on $100,000 bond, and Melvin on $150,000 bond.

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