Mila Petrov, who was 29
years old at the time, didn't seem to like children much at all
and much less, her own daughter, Melanie. A call was made to paramedics
only after much debate between the parents of this child. Paramedics
found a child who had bruises from head to toe. Melanie was transported
to the hospital and doctors worked to save her, the next day, she died.
Child abuse was not a new thing to Melanie in the past she had been
made to eat hot pepper sauce and drink from the toilet and was
constantly being hit by people in the home, even her own siblings who
had permission to hit Melanie if they wanted to.
What could cause the kind of punishment that was given to this
beautiful little Angel? Melanie was bad, according to Mila so on March
12, she hit Melanie and gave her two black eyes. On March 13 Melanie
was being punished for God only knows what, she was told to stand
against the wall while her mother, who was pregnant, went to take a
nap. when she woke up, Mila noticed that someone had thrown up on a
towel and immediately blamed Melanie. Melanie denied it and as
punishment for lying was forced to eat hot sauce and Jalapeno peppers
put into her mouth and her head was slammed into the wall.
When the decision was finally made to call Paramedics, Mila started
yelling for her other children to get the house clean because the
police were coming. When they arrived, Paramedics found Mila leaning
over her daughter in the living room where she told them:
"I've done everything I
At that point, Mila pointed to one of her other five daughters and told
Police that she had been the one to hurt Melanie. Melanie was taken to
the hospital and she died the next day when doctors were unable to
revive her. Mila was arrested and her other children taken into the
custody of Child Welfare. Each of the children were questioned in the
death of their sister and some of their comments were very disturbing:
"There are secrets in
our house. We don't tell"
hit Melanie because she touched our things"
As it turned out, the house was filled with violence and for some
reason, it was all directed at Melanie. The siblings told of how
Melanie was tied to a bed with belts, punched in the face by both of
her parents, beaten and fed hot peppers on a regular basis as
punishment for any number of things a five year old could do wrong.
Even though Melanie was the only child to be abused, the other children
paid the price of losing their sister:
"All of these kids, to
an extent, they were abused, essentially raised in a climate of
violence. From my perspective, all of these kids are in the same boat"
Guardian - Robert Harris
Mila came into the courtroom smiling and waving at her mother and her
common law husband, Carlos Beltran who was not home when the beating
took place, though he had in the past abused the child according to the
other children who lived in the home. In court was Assistant State's
Attorney Martin Moore who told of the beatings Melanie had been given
and how she had lost consciousness before dying. Past abuse also came
and it was stated that Melanie was injured before and had burns from a
hot bath, a broken nose, bruises on her belly and marks that were
consistent with having been beaten with something like a cord, on her
legs and belly. Melanie had scars above her ankles which suggested that
she had been tied up.
Mila told the court that Melanie was the worst child of the seven
children they had, she lied, peed her pants, peed on the carpet as well
as throwing up on the carpet and she needed to be punished for all of
this, never mind the fact that she was only five years old. Mila also
admitted that she had tied Melanie up and locked her in a closet when
she had to leave the house to run errands.
At her arraignment, Mila was denied bail and the right to go pay
her last respects as well as being told she would not be able to have
visits from her other children, including the baby she had just given
birth to in the last couple of days. Circuit Judge Earl Hoffenberg
assigned a public defender to her case and put her on suicide watch.
Public Defender Wendy Schilling told the judge that other inmates had
been threatening Mila, that she wasn't safe:
"She indicated to me
that people have been yelling at her and pointing at her"
know how it felt to
be Melanie? That's too bad, what a shame, poor poor Mila. Wendy was
also upset about a comment that Sheriff Thomas Dart has made when he
called Mila an animal, she spoke after the hearing and said:
"My client is a human
Sorry, Wendy, human beings do NOT
treat their children this way. Your client IS
an animal, an animal of
the worst kind. Prosecutors were considering if this could be a death
penalty case and were looking into an earlier death of a baby who died
in 1995. Family said that the baby, named Anita, died of SIDS at the
age of three months old, but it was also stated that the baby was
thrown during an argument. No one has ever been charged in the death of
DCF has had no prior contact with this family though they were now
asking questions about the care she was given at the hospital:
"The child was
definitely a victim of long term, excessive physical abuse. The ongoing
abuse at the
of an adult. She had burn marks on her feet, a battered face. She has
linear marks on her belly,
could be from being hit by a ruler. Her entire back, shoulder to
shoulder, neck to waist is burned,
hot oil or grease"
at the hospital
Melanie had new as well as old scarring and as she lay in her hospital
bed, dying, it was noted that she had a bruised left eye and was
wearing cartoon pajamas.
In November of 2009. Mila Petrov, who was 31 years old at the time,
plead guilty to the murder of Melanie and Prosecutors were asking for
her sentenced to be more than 60 years though the usual sentence would
have been between 20 and 60 years. Carlos Beltran agreed to testify
against her in exchange for a 20 year sentence. At her sentencing, Mila
told of how sorry she was for what she had done and how she knows that
God forgives her. The Judge told her she had turned out to be her
daughters torturer and the person who caused her death and then
sentenced her to 39 years in prison.
Sheriff Thomas Dart keeps this sketch of Melanie on his desk:
Sadly, this would not be the
last time Thomas Dart would hear about and become involved with the
Petrov family in connection
with child abuse. Angela Petrov, Mila's sister would also be
responsible for the death of
her own child. You can read that story on my site, here: Angelina
Thank you goes out again to Tia who searched until she found the name
that would allow me to memorialize Melanie and connect her to her