Texas couple arrested after malnourished 8-year-old who weighed 29 pounds dies, reports say

Twin sister was also malnourished, said they were beaten daily

Soledad Mendoza, 29, and Ruben Moreno, 29, are both charged with capital murder - under 10 years of age and injury to a child. (Houston Police Department)

A Houston mother and her boyfriend were arrested last week after an 8-year-old girl who weighed 29 pounds died of malnutrition and injuries, according to media reports.

Ruben Moreno, 29, and Soledad Mendoza, 29, were each charged with one count of capital murder of a child under 10 years of age and two counts of injury to a child, according to KPRC, KSAT’s sister station in Houston.

The investigation started in December 2020, when paramedics took the child to a hospital because she had multiple injuries and bruises. She died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Investigators found out that she only weighed 29 pounds and suffered rib fractures, blunt-force injuries in her back and legs, and other injuries, KPRC reported.

The child had a twin sister, who was also underweight at 26 pounds. Two other siblings who lived at the home were not injured.

When questioned by police, Moreno said he blamed the twins for their own injuries because they didn’t want to eat and would get sick, KPRC reported.

The twin sister spoke with investigators in February 2021 and she said that Moreno hit them every day. On the day of the girl’s death, he kicked her, struck her with a blunt object and struck her with his hand, investigators said.

The sister also said her mother put them in a closet and in trash bags, telling them “it’s because you’re ugly and I don’t love you,” court documents state.

When she asked what happened to her sister, the mother allegedly said she killed her.

The children have since been assigned to foster care after they were taken into custody by Child Protective Services.

The couple was arrested on Friday, KPRC reported. Moreno is due in court on Wednesday.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.