FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — The parents of a missing South Florida toddler who is presumed dead were back in court Friday morning.
Brittney Sierra and Calvin Melvin, previously charged with child neglect and lying to police were arraigned again after prosecutors adjusted the charges against them. Prosecutors say the change in charges will likely just be temporary.
As the investigation continues and more evidence comes to light, the charges will likely be increased again.
Both remain in the Broward County jail.
Their son, Dontrell Melvin, went missing in July of 2011, but no one reported him missing until January 2013.
His parents were both charged after various human remains, a diaper and a baby blanket were unearthed in the yard of a home in the 100 block of NW 1st Avenue where the family once lived in Hallandale Beach.
Police believe the remains belong to Dontrell.
Dontrell’s extended family said the last time they saw him, when he was five-months-old, was in July 2011.
Police said Melvin and Sierra spun a web of lies and segmented the family to keep anyone from noticing the child’s disappearance.
According to court documents, a Department of Children and Families investigator who went to a Hallandale Beach home in September 2012 to check on reports of abuse apparently didn’t notice that a 5-month-old baby was missing. The investigator only checked on the older children in the home and didn’t ask about five-month-old Dontrell.
The search for Dontrell began January 9th, 2013 when a worker with the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s Child Protective Investigations Section went to Melvin’s home after receiving a call to the DCF Child Abuse Hotline.
The caller reportedly said that Sierra smoked marijuana in front of three kids and would call them all kinds of nasty curse names. The caller also allegedly said there were a number of men who visited the house to do drugs and have sex with Sierra.
When the sheriff’s investigator went to the home, she noticed one of their three children was unaccounted for.
When asked where Dontrell was, Melvin told the investigator he had left the boy with his parents.
When questioned further, Melvin reportedly changed his story and said he dropped the boy off at fire station in Miami Gardens as part of the Safe Harbor statute. Police said Melvin later recanted the Safe Harbor story.
During police questioning, Melvin allegedly described a verbal argument he had gotten into with Sierra 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.