Grace Lillian Ford
February 3, 2011 - January 12, 2014

Find A Grave Memorial

Mitch Ford called Police on January 9, 2014 to say that he had been speaking to his girlfriend on the phone and he had heard a thud and a scream. Mitch met Police and let them in through the security gate and then unlocked the door to their apartment. Once inside, Police found Melinda Lynn Muniz, the 25 year old girlfriend of Mitch, laying on the floor with her pants and underwear down to her ankles, silver duct tape was over her mouth and she seemed to be unconscious. When an Officer removed the tape from her mouth she screamed "Get him out of here" and told them that there had been a man with dark hair and black boots, he came into the house and attacked her.

Police found three year old Grace unconscious in her room, lying face down with a blanket partially covering her, she had duct tape on her mouth and her pants and underwear were down to her ankles. Grace was not breathing and she didn't have a pulse, her lips and face were blue, though her body was still warm, CPR was started and an Police called for an ambulance.

Police found a table and two bar stools that had been knocked over and a vase was lying on the floor, though it was not broken:

"Muniz sat up at one point and fell to the floor as if she had fainted, however, an
officer noted that Muniz's eyelids were moving and it appeared to that Muniz was
forcing her eyes closed"
Police Report

Melinda said that a man had come in and punched her in the face and arms and then forcing her to ground, he raped her. Police reports said that Melinda didn't show any signs of having been raped.

Mitch had tried calling Melinda several times throughout that day because they had been having problems and she was supposed to be moving out. Mitch asked her when she would be moving and wondered about when he would need to start Grace in a day care center. Melinda had not responded to him or his questions. The couple had been engaged and up to that point, Melinda had been the full time care giver for Grace.



Grace was transported to the hospital and for three days she was on life support before she died.

Grace went from being THIS beautiful
little Angel...
to being THIS beautiful
little Angel...
ending up as THIS beautiful little
Angel,because no one would listen!
How many children are going to have to die because CPS doesn't want to listen? How many times are the people who actually get PAID to protect the children going to get away with the same old, lame excuses for their failures? What is it going to take before NO MORE CHILDREN HAVE TO DIE? When will those who don't do their jobs start being held accountable for the results of their inaction against child abusers? Don't make changes, don't make new laws with the names of dead children attached to them, this has been proven not to work. All that needs to be done is someone needs to listen, SERIOUSLY LISTEN to what they are being told and put the child first. Err on the side of the child, remove the child from the situation and do an investigation, a THOROUGH investigation, if nothing is found, return the child and no harm done, but we see the result of the errors that are made and it's not pretty. This precious little Angel and hundreds more suffer and die every year because no one will err on the side of the child.

Police didn't feel that Melinda's story had been convincing and didn't match up with what they found. An investigation showed that Melinda had bought duct tape, nylon cable ties, kitchen shears and cotton balls at the Dollar Tree shortly before she claimed to have been attacked. Police said it was clearly premeditated and that she had taken Grace to the store with her to buy the items that she intended to kill her with. A video camera in the store showed that Grace had been with Melinda at the store:

"It was very early in our investigation that we determined that what she reported did
not take place. We knew within a couple of days who were were looking at. We didn't
feel any urgency to make an arrest"
Police Spokesman - David Tilley

Very few details had been released since Police didn't want to compromise the investigation.

Mitch Ford and Emily Ward, Grace's mother, were fighting for custody, though the records of the court battle had been sealed after Grace died. Child Protective Services was involved with the family after several complaints had come in about the abuse and neglect of Grace and though the family was referred to counseling, each time CPS was unable to figure out if the complaints were true or not.

Melinda Lynn Muniz was arrested after it was determined that Grace had died of homicidal violence which included suffocation, her bail was set at $1 million and she was charged with capital murder.

Emily Ward was upset and said that her daughter should not have died the way she did:



"We were trying so hard. I was reaching out to whoever would listen to me"

Emily said that she noticed problems with Grace not long after Mitch began dating Melinda in October of 2012. After Grace died, Emily posted on her Facebook page that Melinda was a monster, she was right.



Melinda had lied to the Police, telling them that there were no problems between her and Mitch and then later changing that to say they had broken up many times in the past. Police noticed that the vase on the floor had fallen in a direction not consistent with the way she had said the man had pushed her and though she told Police that the man had pulled her pants down from behind, they were unbuttoned and unzipped. Melinda had also changed her story about seeing Grace with duct tape over her mouth.

While Grace was clinging to life, Melinda's family called Police to say that she was in the Emergency Room having trouble remembering anything from the past year of her life. Melinda told Police she couldn't remember what had happened in the last few months of her life, but that she hoped her memory would come back in a few days:

"It really didn't make sense. We don't want to discount the fact that what she was saying
could possibly be true. Se we went ahead and we looked into those allegations but we
also kept an open mind that this possibly could be a staged scene"

Police wanted to be sure that they had the right person and Melinda was watched while the investigation took place and evidence was gathered.

In an interview, Mitch said that he blamed himself for what happened, for not seeing the signs saying that when her heard the details of how Grace had died, he was shocked. Mitch was angry when he learned that Police suspected that Melinda had suffocated his daughter to death:

"To me, it's completely insane and there's no way in Hell I would ever let my daughter
with her if I thought she was capable of that, there's no way. I would have never done that"

Mitch went on to say that Emily had not even been involved in the life her daughter at all. Mitch did visit Melinda in jail and later said that he felt she had been lying to him throughout their entire relationship and that he felt like he had fallen for all of her lies.

Emily admitted that she wasn't always the best mother but she was suffering because of what happened:

"I don't deserve any more heartache"

Emily said that one day she would have to forgive Melinda:

"I'm going to have to do it not because she deserves forgiveness, but because
I deserve peace"

Emily said that since 2012, CPS had been investigating allegations of abuse against Grace at the hands of Melinda and that Mitch didn't want to see what was going on saying that he had eyes and he could see what was happening to Grace. On Halloween, Grace had been admitted to the hospital for a Benadryl overdose and in December CPS got calls about bruises on her arms. CPS couldn't find any intentional abuse had taken place:

"We have to look at all the facts. We need to go back and see what we could have
done better, what we did wrong, correct it next time"
CPS Spokeswoman - Shari Pulliam

Sadly, all too often is seems to be the case that they figure out they screwed up big time and a child has died because they didn't do their jobs the way they were supposed to. Their attitudes seem to be "Oh well, we messed up this time and there's a dead child, but we'll get it right next time", promises of change are made and NOTHING every changes. Getting it right next time never comes and it doesn't' help the child who has died a horrible death at the hands of an abuser. Next time doesn't do Grace and the hundreds of other children who die each year, any good!

Emily said that when she heard about Grace's death and that she had duct tape on her mouth, she instantly knew that it had been Melinda who had put it there:

"I knew right away it was Melinda that did it and I was saying that from beginning"

Emily said that it made her happy to know that Melinda had been arrested, but was not sure about the death penalty as a charge:

"The death penalty" I don't think we have the right to play God and take someone's
life, even though she took my baby's life. I also feel the death penalty would be too easy"

Police concluded that Melinda has set the apartment up to look like someone had broken in. Grace's Aunt had this to say:

"I feel like we're more angry now than initially because we didn't know all those minor
details of what happened"
Stephanie Beltran

A neighbor said that she heard noises on the day of the incident:

"I heard a couple of really loud thumps on my ceiling, no screaming, no calling for help.
None of it"
Jennifer Meier

Jennifer thought that maybe someone was moving furniture and the fact that there had been no screaming at all was a hint that there had been no attack. Melinda's Lawyer, Robbie McClung said:

"She is very confused and overwhelmed and like I said, very fragile"

Police said that Melinda is a killer who wanted to be the mother of Grace and wanted to have a perfect life with Mitch as her husband and Grace as their daughter. Melinda can be seen in pictures posing as a nice family and in others, doing Grace's hair.

Melinda is set to go to trial in January of 2015:

"God will make sure that justice is served to the fullest. What this monster did is
as evil as it can get. There is no excuse"
Family Member

Emily found a way to turn her grief into something positive. While watching Grace going home in the hospital, Emily got an idea and The Amazing Grace Project had it's beginnings:

"The Amazing Grace Project is almost like my new baby. God put the project on my heart.
He told me he wants me to help save those and protect those that can't protect themselves.
God showed me that he will be me the people and things to make it happen. I've remained
faithful and he's fulfilled that promise"

Carlene Altom, Director and Producer of the Providence Lane Media heard about what Emily wanted to do and reached out to her to help with a documentary of the legacy of Grace, a film that began filing in December of 2014:

"The documentary is capturing the process of Grace's family taking something so painful
and finding something good in it and turning that pain into passion and using it to make a
difference. Its just the process of what they're going through as a family, the steps of grief,
talking through those moments of when the idea came to them and what they're and what
they're trying to focus on right now"
Carlene Altom

On a Facebook page, The Amazing Grace Project has a group that is set up to raise aware about child abuse that happens every day and is attempting to bring changes through legislation to CPS and how they deal with child abuse issues and reports:

"This documentary will cover what happened to my daughter and it will also cover
things in
my life. It's going to be an inspiration. It's beauty from ashes"
Emily Ward

Free services will be provided by The Amazing Grace Project to families in need of help with care of their children:

"They want to create and alternative to CPS because they felt like the CPS system
failed them. They are hoping to work with Law Enforcement and CPS and they know
there's not enough Government funding in the world to battle all that evil"
Carlene Altom

Carlene is a survivor of child abuse and she said she felt connected to Emily from the start when she met her during an event that was meant to celebrate what would have been the third birthday of Grace. With the trail starting on January 7, 2015, Carlene said they were planning on filming throughout that time and would end the project within 48 hours of the final verdict being handed down:

"We've been cautious because we don't want to interview or put anybody on video
until after the trail. We do want to capture the first day of court and those emotions of
how they feel. They're just a very loving family and their main goal, from what I've gathered,
is to stop this from happening to somebody else, which I think is a beautiful thing"
Carlene Altom

Emily said that another reason for the project is to show how people grieve for loved ones they have lost, saying that giving back and helping people to smile is helping her to keep smiling herself, along with her faith in God. Grace's father's family declined to be part of the documentary.

OBITUARY:



Grace Lillian Ford
February 24, 2011 - January 12, 2014
McKinney/Allen/Plano

Grace Lillian Ford, age 2, of Plano, Texas, passed away on January 12, 2014.

She was born in Frisco, Texas on February 24, 2011, to Mitch Dean Ford and Emily Ann (Reeves) Ward.

She is survived by her mother, Emily Reeves Ward and husband Chris of Plano, Texas; father, Mitchum Dean Ford of Allen, Texas; grandparents, Marilil and Doug Reeves of Plano, Texas, Jana and Randell Ward of McKinney, Texas, Gary and Gloria Ford of Kentucky; aunt, Stephanie and Bryce Beltran, and son, Austin; aunt, Katie Reeves, her fiancÚ Sean Rippy and her son (Grace's best friend) Pierce.

A funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, January 18, 2014, at First Baptist Church, 1300 E. 15th Street, Plano, Texas. Interment will follow at Ridgeview Memorial Park. The family will receive friends during a visitation being from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., Friday evening at the church.

Gracie, your dad and momma love you and will always miss you. You have brought so much joy to our lives. We are blessed to have such an amazing daughter, you truly are our Amazing Grace!

Obituary found here: Turrentine/Jackson/Morrow

Thank you Jessica for sending me this story and allowing me to memorialize Grace, I hope I have done her proud and I hope that some day those in "power" will start taking notice and save the lives of these little Angels.

Update: February 5, 2015:

Click here to read about the trial, conviction and sentence of Melinda Muniz

This page was created on December 29, 2014
Death occurred in the state of Texas

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