A mother allegedly admitted to intentionally killing her 5-year-old daughter before taking her to the hospital where her body was found partially wrapped in plastic and mesh bags, police say.
The incident occurred on Sunday when Melissa Towne drove to HCA Tomball Hospital, located just north of Houston, Texas, at approximately 12 p.m. and asked hospital personnel for a wheelchair because “her daughter’s body was hurting,” according to a statement from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
“An emergency room nurse walked to Towne's Jeep Cherokee, where she found Towne's 5-year-old daughter partially wrapped in plastic and mesh bags,” the statement read. “The child was unresponsive and a laceration was visible on the child's neck.”
The 5-year-old girl was pronounced dead 10 minutes later.
The Tomball Police Department was notified about the death and responded to the hospital where Towne was detained and reportedly told the authorities that she killed her daughter at Spring Creek Park before driving her to the hospital, police say.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office Homicide and Crime Scene Units responded to the crime scene and took over the investigation into the death.
“Towne was transported to the Sheriff's Office Homicide Unit, where she provided investigators with a statement admitting to intentionally killing her daughter,” police said in their statement released to the media. “The Harris County District Attorney's Office accepted a charge of Capital Murder against Melissa Towne and she was booked into the Harris County Jail.”
ABC New’s Houston station KTRK obtained a statement from the surviving members of the little girl’s family.
"We ask for privacy and respect for [the victim’s] father, James, and our family as we all figure out how to grieve her horrible loss and try to figure out how to go on from here. [The 5-year-old girl] has grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and a father that all loved her dearly and never thought such a tragic event would happen to such an innocent child. She will always hold a special place in all of our hearts. We will always remember her as the sweetest little girl who never met a stranger. She was so full of love and giggles and her bright blue eyes shined so full of curiosity. We are hoping and praying justice will be served and the heartless monster who took our sweet girl away from us pay for the innocent life she took."
The initial probable cause magistrate judge set Towne's bond at $15 million, according to KTRK.
A spokesperson with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services also released a statement to KTRK regarding the case against Towne.
"Child Protective Services is investigating this tragic death alongside law enforcement. The child's mother, Melissa Towne, does have prior history with CPS, but specific details of CPS investigations are confidential according to law,” the statement read. Ms. Towne has three additional children ranging in age from 2 years old to 18 years old, who are safe and have been living with other family members."
It's unclear if there were any potential witnesses, according to authorities.
The investigation into the alleged murder is ongoing.