Parents in Palm Beach, Florida, are facing murder charges after their 13-month-old baby starved to death, and police discovered that the walls of their home were covered in feces.
Kristen Meyer-Aleman and Alejandro Aleman are in county jail on first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse charges after investigators found the family home to be in utter disarray and directly linked to the death of 13-month-old Tayla Aleman, according to the Palm Beach Post. The couple faces the death penalty if convicted.
The local coroner determined the cause of Tayla's death to be exhaustion and extreme malnutrition, and one doctor said it was the worst case of starvation he had ever seen. Tayla was born weighing a healthy 9 pounds and weighed roughly 7 pounds at the time of her death.
In taped interviews with the Alemans obtained by WPTV, detectives grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of compliance shown by the Alemans, as both seemed to not have a full understanding of the gravity of the charges.
"You guys never took Tayla to the doctor to find out what's going on and all she did was lose weight lose weight and not put on any weight. No one ever noticed it and she didn't have any teeth, that's not normal for a 13-month-old," said Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Detective Vionide St. Jean.
The Alemans had 10 children and two dogs, and the family home was in such disarray that investigators could smell urine from the edge of the driveway. Inside the house, there was mildew growing on piles of laundry and feces spread on the walls. Broken TV parts littered the black-stained carpet where the children slept, and several of the children had "scabies," a rash caused by mites. There was also no food in the home, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The Florida Department of Children and Families made several visits to the Alemans' home over the years, discovering that some children had speech and developmental delays as a result of not going to school. They ultimately decided to leave the children in the Alemans' custody after finding the children without cuts or bruises. DCF did not intervene and says there were "missed opportunities" to do so, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Kristen claimed she never noticed her daughter wasn't getting enough to eat and thought Tayla was just small for her age. Tayla was wearing clothes to fit a 3-month-old.
"There’s a disease or something where a baby eats all the time but doesn’t put on weight,” said Alejandro, who also claimed he never changed, fed, or even held Tayla because he's "afraid" of children.
"Tayla did not have a disease,” said St. Jean. "There was no disease. It was starving."