HALLANDALE BEACH (CBSMiami) – Hallandale Beach police say human remains have been found in the backyard of a home where the parents of a missing toddler used to live. “This is no longer a missing person’s case, ” said Hallandale Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy. “We are investigating a homicide case.”
The parents, Britney Sierra and Calvin Melvin, were charged with child neglect and booked into the Broward Sheriff’s Office main jail on Friday.
Police said the Medical Examiner examined the remains after they were unearthed Friday afternoon. Further testing will be done to determine whether they are the remains of Dontrell Melvin, who hasn’t been seen for 18 months.
Chief Dwyane Flournoy held a news conference Friday to announce the arrests of Dontrell’s parents.
“After lengthy interviews over last 12 hours, both have intimated that the child has been harmed in some way by each other. So in essence, they are blaming each other for the child’s disappearance,” said Chief Flournoy.
Chief Flournoy also revealed they parents gave police information about where to search.
“They have both provided us an area of interest to go and look to see if the child has been harmed and where the child may be.”
That area of interest is a home in Hallandale Beach in the 100 block of Northwest First Avenue where Britney Sierra once lived. Police were on the scene Friday morning with a cadaver dog and they were looking for evidence related to the child’s disappearance.
A couple of hours later, police with shovels began digging up a section of the backyard and it wasn’t long after that police said they had found remains.
The search for Dontrell began Wednesday when a worker with BSO’s Child Protective Investigations Section went to Melvin’s home to check on an unrelated case.
Investigators said when the worker arrived, she noticed one of their three children was unaccounted for.
When asked where Dontrell was, Calvin told the investigator he had left the boy with his parents. When questioned further by police, he said he dropped him off at fire station in Miami Gardens as part of the Safe Harbor statute but Chief Flournoy said Melvin recanted the Safe Harbor story.
“It’s not true and it’s not what happened,” said Flournoy.
During police questioning, Chief Flournoy said Calvin described a verbal argument he had gotten into with the mother in July 2011 and left the home. When he returned 3 weeks later, Dontrell was gone, he told police. Melvin told police that “Sierra asked him not to ask him about the whereabouts of the child,” said Flournoy.
Watch police news conference below.
Dontrell went missing when he was about 5 months old and would be close to two years old now. A neighbor told CBS 4′s Ted Scouten that a relative of Sierra’s told her in August that the child was missing.
“That the baby was missing for awhile,” said Rosetta Brown Braham. ” I told her they should report it, that’s the right way to do because it’s a sad situation, it’s a young couple. what ever happened to the baby, they need to come clean about the baby, you know.”
The couple has two other children together who are now in the custody of DCF.
In October 2012, investigators said the boy’s mother filed a report about a custody dispute.
They said she often asked about the child.
Both Britney Sierra and Calvin Melvin are expected to be arraigned Saturday.
Friday night a memorial sat in front of the home where police say they discovered what appear to be human remains.
Natalie Garrido moved into the house 6 months ago and said she isn’t upset about her yard turning into a crime scene “as long as it helps the case.” She said she thought it was strange that her dog would always sniff around the same spot that police say they found what appear to be human remains.
“I always wondered what he was smelling I would never think anything like that,” said Garrido.
She says it’s sad to think about what might have happened to the little boy.
“I’m just happy the parents are being dealt with,” said Garrido. “I would never do anything to my baby. It’s just unimaginable.”