Texas woman, 25-year-old Melinda Lynn Muniz, has been arrested this week for the apparent staging of an attack in order to kill her fiancé’s daughter, a 2-year-old toddler named Grace Lillian Ford. Panic, terror, and phone records created what Muniz thought would be her alibi, but law enforcement officials investigated the young soon-to-be-stepmother, and the crime scene, and determined that she was in fact responsible for the young girl’s death.
Melinda Muniz and her fiancé, Grace’s father, Mitch Ford, allegedly had a fight that morning, leading Ford to ask Muniz to move out of the apartment the two shared in Plano, Texas. Later that day, Melinda Muniz, who was watching young Grace, called Mitch in a panic, saying that she and Grace were being attacked by a man who broke into their home. Grace’s father reports hearing his child screaming through the phone, and to him, the events did sound as though the two females were being attacked. Police officers were dispatched, and upon arrival, Grace was laying unconscious with duct tape over her mouth, and Melinda was tied up, duct taped quiet as well, with her pants pulled down.
Although Melinda’s story seemed to match Mitch’s, police officers and examiners quickly found holes in Melinda’s story. The 25-year-old Texas woman was arrested for staging a fake attack in order to cover up killing her fiancé’s infant daughter. Grace was flown straight to the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, but was pronounced dead two days later. The cause of death was determined to be suffocation.
As investigators pieced together the events of Melinda and Grace’s day, they discovered that the two had left the house for a shopping trip at a nearby dollar store. Within the same hour of buying duct tape, kitchen shears, zip ties, and cotton swabs, Muniz made the call to Mitch claiming that she and his daughter were being brutally attacked. Mitch Ford sprung into action, worried about his little girl, but the truth surfaced and Melinda became the prime suspect in the homicide of Grace Lillian Ford.
Further information surfaced after that day in the form of custody battles and abuse records. Grace’s mother, Emily Ward, had been fighting for sole custody of her daughter, and Grace’s mother’s mother had written a letter to Child Protective Services (CPS) and hand-delivered it just a couple of days before Muniz staged the attack and allegedly suffocated the toddler.
In her affidavit, Grace’s maternal grandmother, whose name has not been released, claims that she wrote the letter to CPS because she noticed “physical injuries” on her young granddaughter that did not seem to be from falls or bumps. She recalls that the injuries began when Mitch Ford became involved with Melinda Muniz, even saying that the “pattern” of noticeable harm on Grace aligned with Muniz’s move into the Ford home. CPS made three separate trips to the Ford household, but did not find any evidence of abuse. The case is being reviewed, but will not change the events of January 9, 2014.
Although Mitch Ford tried to break up with Muniz on the day of Grace’s death, instead of moving out, this 25-year-old Texas woman staged an attack in an effort to cover up killing her fiancé’s daughter, 2-year-old toddler, Grace Lillian Ford. Under a $1 million bail, Melinda Lynn Muniz is being held in Texas’ Colin County Jail.
By K. Corrine Van Vliet