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story.lead_photo.caption Melissa Miranda

FAYETTEVILLE -- A couple have been arrested in connection with handcuffing and starving an 8-year-old boy, according to police reports.

Josue Tovias

Melissa Miranda, 33, and Josue Tovias, 28, both of 3457 Harvard St. were arrested Friday at Owl Creek School as they picked up Miranda's children, according to preliminary arrest reports.

Arkansas State Police child abuse hotline

The Crimes Against Children Division runs the state’s child abuse hotline and has 10 investigative offices. The call center decides whether to investigate child abuse, neglect or maltreatment reports based on whether the reports meet state and federal law criteria for investigation. Anyone can report suspected child abuse at 800-482-5964. For more information, go to

Source: Staff report

Miranda was arrested in connection with battery, aggravated assault on a family member, endangering the welfare of a child, tampering with evidence, terroristic threatening and kidnapping. Tovias was arrested in connection with accomplice to those offenses and permitting child abuse, according to the reports.

An employee at the Arkansas Department of Human Services asked the Fayetteville Police Department on Wednesday to help investigate a tip left on the state's child abuse hotline. The person reporting the abuse said a boy was being handcuffed to a chair in the living room of a house since the beginning of January, according to the police report.

Police conducted interviews Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week, the reports show.

Miranda told police she used handcuffs as part of punishing the boy, according to the reports. Tovias denied the child abuse, and Miranda said he knew about the abuse, according to the report.

Miranda handcuffed the boy to furniture and didn't let him have food, according to the report. Police said they found the boy to be extremely thin and he had bruising consistent with handcuffs and cuts on his back.

School employees told police the boy ate from trash cans, stole food from other children and cried when he couldn't find food, according to the reports. They told police the boy's appearance changed significantly since November.

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The school gave the boy a different time to eat to help with his "extreme" hunger, according to the report. One report notes school staff said the boy's condition kept them up at night.

Miranda was charged in November with felony possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor domestic battery against Tovias, according to a probable cause affidavit at the Washington County Circuit Court.

Child maltreatment investigations are confidential under state law, said Amy Webb, department spokeswoman, in email. She said she could not confirm or deny if the department has been involved with any specific family or youth.

An Arkansas State Police spokeswoman did not return a phone message left Monday.

Miranda has five children, including the boy, and is pregnant. The children, ages 5 through 17, were placed in foster care.

Police said one of the boy's siblings gave them an audio recording of Miranda punishing the boy.

"Miranda can be heard using explicit language toward the victim and saying she would cut the victim, kill him, leave him outside and kill herself," according to the report.

Miranda and Tovias were being held Monday at the Washington County Detention Center on $50,000 bonds.

NW News on 01/30/2018

Print Headline: Couple arrested on suspicion of starving boy

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