An Arkansas father and his live-in girlfriend have been been arrested after a 5-year-old girl was hospitalized for severe malnutrition and apparent neglect, police said.
Antwon Davidson, 28, and Jenecia Moore, 27, both of Camden, each face charges of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree domestic battery and permitting the abuse of a minor, records show. They surrendered to police Monday.
On Friday, the Camden Police Department responded to Ouachita County Medical Center in reference to a report of a 5-year-old girl falling down stairs and complaining of her neck hurting.
Authorities said they found the girl “very ‘bony’ and undersize for her age.” She also had circular burn marks on her upper thighs and bruising on her back.
The child was later transferred for further evaluation to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, where a report was taken from several workers.
Police said the 5-year-old was described in the report as “being severely malnourished, emaciated and frail with sunken facial features.” She was also said to be “crying out for food and drink upon her arrival.”
According to a police news release, the girl told authorities she was not allowed to drink after 6 p.m. because she “[potties] on herself.”
The girl was eventually moved to the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Her electrolytes were “[remarkably] high for sodium,” police said.
“They put salt in my rice, they put a big spoon full of salt in my rice and make me eat it,” the 5-year-old told authorities, according to the release.
Police said the child’s statement “explains the extraordinary high sodium and chloride levels and is consistent with salt poisoning, which is a dangerous and potentially fatal mechanism of poisoning.”
“The doctor says high levels would result in an intense thirst drive, which explains why the young child had gotten in trouble for drinking from the toilet,” the release states.
A report from Children’s Hospital was consistent with physical abuse and neglect, authorities said, noting that the girl faced a “grave risk” for serious injury or death in her home environment.
Davidson and Moore remained at the Ouachita County jail as of Wednesday morning, according to an online inmate roster.