Couple Charged After Child's Severe Burns Go Untreated

Parents didn't get help for toddler who lost finger, parts of two others from burning

A Fort Lauderdale couple is facing child neglect charges after they failed to get medical treatment for their young daughter who lost a finger when she was burned by soup nearly a year and a half ago, according to an arrest affidavit read in Broward court Wednesday.

Kenneth Chavelier, 29, and Irma Mustamu, 22, are both facing charges of neglect of a child causing great harm and are being held on $50,000 bond, according to jail records.

It was unknown whether they had attorneys.

According to the arrest affidavit read by Broward Circuit Judge John "Jay" Hurley, police and a child protection investigator responded to the Crossland Economy Studios hotel on Commercial Boulevard Tuesday after receiving allegations that a child was being tortured.

When officers arrived, they found the 2-year-old girl with her right hand wrapped in cloth. When the cloth was removed, officers discovered a severely burned and deformed hand that was missing one finger and had two partial fingers, Hurley said.

Mustamu told police the child's hand had been burned by hot soup when the family was living in Maryland in August, 2010, Hurley said.

Fearing the child would be taken away from them, Chavelier and Mustamu fled Maryland and came to Fort Lauderdale in the last year, prosecutors said.

Hurley said the couple didn't seek medical treatment for the girl but instead looked up on the Internet how to treat children for burns.

Prosecutors say Chavelier has an arrest record in Maryland that includes gun charges, assault and fleeing.

Department of Children and Families spokesman Mark Riordan said the child is receiving medical care and is being sheltered by DCF.

Riordan said DCF is investigating the incident and is working with Maryland law enforcement to identify relatives qualified and willing to care for the child.

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