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Mom and boyfriend charged with CAPITAL MURDER for starving 8-yr-old daughter to death

Both Mendoza and Moreno were detained on May 20, following a lengthy investigation into Melanie Mendoza's death in a hospital on December 21, 2020
UPDATED MAY 25, 2022
Soledad Mendoza (L) and her boyfriend Ruben 'Alex' Moreno (R) have been accused of murdering their daughter Melanie Mendoza (Houston Police Department)
Soledad Mendoza (L) and her boyfriend Ruben 'Alex' Moreno (R) have been accused of murdering their daughter Melanie Mendoza (Houston Police Department)

This article contains information about child abuse that could be traumatic for some readers. Discretion is advised.

HOUSTON, TEXAS: A woman and her boyfriend were charged with murder after they were suspected of beating and starving their twin daughters, one of whom died. Soledad Mendoza and Ruben "Alex" Moreno, both 29, are accused of murdering Melanie Mendoza, 8, and inflicting pain on her sister at their home in Houston, Texas.  According to court records obtained by Fox5, the children were subjected to a long list of alleged mistreatment, including untreated shattered bones and clinical evidence of hunger. When authorities inquired about her twin, the surviving twin girl allegedly answered, "My mom killed her."

According to the news station Fox5, Mendoza and Moreno were detained on Friday, May 20, following a lengthy investigation into Melanie Mendoza's death in a hospital on December 21, 2020. With multiple injuries, the twins were transferred to Memorial Hermann-Memorial City Center. Despite the fact that they were eight years old, each girl weighed less than 30 pounds and was still in their diapers. The medics then summoned the cops to do a welfare check. Authorities rescued the surviving twin, whose identity has not been revealed, and two other children, aged 7 and 12, from the family home and placed them in foster care. Mendoza had lately given birth to a baby who was still in the hospital and had been placed with foster parents. 


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According to KHOU 11, the children were discovered to have numerous wounds and to be excessively underweight, according to court records, with Melanie Mendoza's autopsy revealing symptoms of long-term malnutrition. According to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, which completed the study six months after her death, her body revealed injuries dating back some time, including an untreated rib fracture that had happened weeks before.


The eight-year-old had blunt force injuries from head to toe, including wounds on her head, upper extremities, chest, and lower extremities, according to investigators. Her right adrenal gland had hemorrhaged from trauma, and brown fat found in the gland was deemed to be symptomatic of hunger, according to the autopsy. Her bones were also underdeveloped in comparison to her age. The death was ruled a ‘homicide’ because of ‘complications of blunt force injuries and starvation.’

Medical testing on the surviving twin found that she had suffered from acute starvation, physical abuse, low weight and muscle mass, and several untreated rib fractures, according to court filings. Her right arm had also been broken. When she originally came to the hospital, she weighed just 26.4 pounds, while her unfortunate twin weighed 29 pounds.


The surviving sister is now stated to be well cared for and to have gained weight. On February 23, 2021, she was questioned by police after alleging that her mother had murdered her twin. She reportedly told investigators that she and her sister were frequently placed in garbage bags, with Mendoza allegedly telling them that it was because they were "ugly and I don't love you." They allegedly ate food from the garbage can and were beaten regularly, sometimes with a belt or a shoe, according to the child.

For the death of Melanie Mendoza, both Mendoza and Moreno are charged with capital murder of a child under the age of ten, as well as two charges of damage to a minor pertaining to her twin. For all three charges, Mendoza was issued a $3 million bail. She is scheduled to appear in court on June 23, 2022. For the capital murder charge, Moreno's bond was refused. For the remaining two offenses, he was issued a $2 million bail. On Wednesday, May 25, he is scheduled to appear in court.

If you or anyone you know suspects child abuse, you are urged to immediately call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential and the hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.