CPS faces questions after Plano tot's murder

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by LAUREN ZAKALIK

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaalauren

WFAA

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 9:05 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 29 at 9:05 PM

PLANO — Two-year-old Grace Ford was murdered earlier this month.

Now the Inspector General of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is launching an investigation into how Child Protective Services handled allegations of abuse inside the child's Plano home.

CPS is also launching its own investigation.

Records show CPS looked into four claims of abuse or neglect since 2012; three of those claims were filed since July 2013.

Grace's own grandfather expressed concern to the agency in a letter two days before she was found unconscious in her bed with duct tape over her face on January 9. CPS is also reviewing that letter.

Grace died on January 12. Plano police said her father's fiancée, 25-year-old Melinda Muniz, taped the girl's mouth shut as she faked a home break-in and sexual assault.

That happened just hours after Muniz and the girl's father had been fighting.

Grace's aunt, Stephanie Beltran, said CPS "didn't protect Grace."

Muniz is now in jail facing a capital murder charge.

Jennifer Meier lives in an apartment right below Grace Ford and her family in Plano, and was home when the alleged crime happened.

A mother herself, Meier always had a gut feeling something just wasn't right upstairs.

"I couldn't put my finger on it," Meier said.

Meier never made any complaints to CPS, but said she was devastated to learn what had happened. She described Grace as a cute little girl who always wore pink.

Melinda Muniz is now in jail facing a capital murder charge.

E-mail lzakalik@wfaa.com

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