An Army staff sergeant, Monique Latrise Beneke, 27, who recently moved into a new home in Edgewood, Md. with her four children, one of them a stepdaughter, was ordered to be held without bail on Dec. 3 after being charged with the abuse, neglect, and assault of one of those children – her four-year-old stepdaughter.
Authorities were tipped off to the alleged abuse by an alert staff member at Edgewood Elementary School, according to ABC News.
Once the Harford County Sheriff’s Office got involved:
"The deputy observed what appeared to be grab marks on the child and also it was reported the child may have been burned and it appeared that the child did have some burn injuries... minor burn injuries to their fingers and hands."
Charging documents shared that over the course of time: the mother hit her four-year-old stepdaughter, picked her up and dropped her on the ground several times, punched her in the stomach, and burned the child’s hand with a long lighter after she was caught “stealing” food in the home.
The little girl was also locked in a bedroom after being caught trying to drink water from a toilet.
According to reports from WBAL in Baltimore, the four-year-old was malnourished and weighed only 28.6 pounds when she was placed into the care of Child Protective Services.
A Harford Co. spokesperson said that the little girl gained three pounds after being placed in foster care on Dec. 4.
Upon searching the bad step-mom’s home, and adding insult to injury, police discovered that the other three children’s rooms were “clean and decorated nicely, while the one step-child’s room consisted of a urine-soaked bed with containers filled with urine-soaked clothing and nothing else in the room.”
The little girl’s dad, also in the U.S. Army, is currently stationed in Hawaii and claims to have no prior knowledge of his daughter’s abuse. The father is reportedly on his way to Md. now.
The Assistant State's Attorney for Harford Co., Lisa Marts, reported that Beneke was involved in another abuse investigation when she was stationed in Hawaii with the U.S. Army, and referred to this as "a very serious case.”
Staff Sgt. Monique Latrise Beneke has been charged with first-degree child abuse for severe physical injuries, second-degree child abuse, neglect of a minor, and, first- and second-degree assault.
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