Justin Polk Jr.
January 5, 2012 - June 2, 2014
Find A Grave Memorial

Justin Polk along with his siblings, was living in a situation that no child should have to live in. Merissa Anderson, his 23 year old mother, was in a relationship with with a man named Jonathan Charapatam who was 27 years old at the time, and he was a violent, cruel man to her and to her children.

In May of 2012, Merissa made a call to her boss, he remembers it was a Friday and it was about 8:40p.m., she stated that she was hiding in the closet to escape her boyfriend who was beating on her and her children:

"She frantically explained that she was locked in a closet with her
children because her boyfriend, Jonnathan Charapata had beaten
her and her children"

Merissa's boss said that he could hear screaming and crying in the background and that Merissa said had called 911, though when a search was done, there was no record to be found of that call. This account of what happened was part of a 200 page report that outlined a series of incidents which were reported by Merissa's co-workers to Deputies after her son Justin died in a Florida Hospital in June of 2014. At the time of Justin's death, Jonathan and Merissa were both arrested on charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect. I found the picture below and certainly we can see that this child was dirty and his hair was not clean or combed. From this picture, I would say there was for sure neglect taking place.

In the 200 page report were many examples of abuse and violence while the couple lived in an extended stay hotel. Employees where Merissa worked were shocked to find out what had been taking place. A week before Justin died, there was a change in Merissa's behavior at work. In the past, she had been a great employee, however, now she was in trouble and her boss moved her desk closer to his so that he could watch her. At one point, a Manager had been bragging about how good of job Merissa was doing on May 22nd and 23rd, however, another manager said that the next week, her assignments had too many mistakes in them.

The changes in Merissa were said to be drastic and when put together with the phone call and injuries that were clearly visible on her body, showed the classic signs of abuse according to Carol Wick, CEO of Harbor House Of Central Florida, which is an advocacy group for victims of domestic violence. Carol Wick said that the organization has a work place initiative to make employees and managers aware of domestic violence and help them to understand what they can do to help out in these situations. Carol Wick stated that when an employee is being abused and they are fired for their changed behavior at work, serious issues go unreported:

"It's not that you've driven it out of your work place, you've forced
it underground. That creates more of an unsafe environment"

Carol Wick said that among the programs available to victims of domestic violence at Harbor House, is training human resource professionals to know the signs. Employees start calling in sick a lot, receive harassing phone calls from their partner at work and that partner may start showing up at work without notice. Employees who at one time seemed to be very attentive to their jobs, will become distracted and often times, unable to continue or complete the task they were in the process of working on.

The family was considered to be well know to the Department Of Children And Families, with constant allegations of domestic violence that took place with the men that Merissa allowed into her life. In March of 2014, DCF was informed that Justin's biological father, who lived next door to Merissa and Jonathan, had been arrested for violating and domestic violence order. Justin Polk Sr. had a criminal record that included drugs and battery:

"There are concerns for the supervision of the children based on the
mother knowing there is an injunction and still allowing the father to
have contact with them. The entire home is disgusting. There are
dirty pots and pans all over the kitchen, there is a god in a cage
and the bottom of the cage is missing and there is dog urine on
the floor. The crib the mother uses is broken and soiled. The
home has an odor"
DCF Report

With all of this information. why didn't DCF find it necessary to take action? Why do they NEVER seem to find it necessary to take action? In so many stories of the lives of these abused to death children, DCF was in their lives, knew the conditions of their horrible existence and seemed to stand back and do nothing.

The first red flag to co-workers was when Merissa was on the verge of tears at different times during the week before Justin died. Merissa didn't want to talk about it, however, she eventually told a co-worker that her hotel room had robbed, but co-workers believed it didn't happen, that she lied about it. On another occasion, Merissa, who was pregnant at the time, told her Supervisor that Jonathan had punched in the stomach and in one incident, Merissa was found sleeping while at work and that lead to what a Supervisor said was another batch of lies:

"Ms Anderson gave an elaborate story that she was on insulin for Diabetes
and her medication was not working properly. She explained it in great detail
as an explanation for how she fell asleep at work, possibly forgetting that
she had already told me she was working  a second job at an overnight
convenience store"

Change in behavior is not always a sign that someone is being abused, however, if employees feel they can openly report concerns to their human resources department, Carol Wick said, it would be possible that more people in trouble would get the help they needed.

On June 2, 2014, Merissa had returned to work, this was after she had called her boss, supposedly from the closet. Merissa was wearing a long sleeved shirt in an effort to cover bruises on her arms, however, her boss noticed that there was visible bruising around her eye. Less than one hour later, Merissa got a call that Justin had sustained a serious injury. Jonathan, Merissa and her children had been staying at the Countryside Inn and Suites when Paramedics arrived after a call to 911.

Paramedics walked into the room and found Justin not breathing, having no pulse and he was said to filthy dirty

"The child's lips had already turned a light shade of blue and the
stomach appeared to be bloated. The child had multiple bruise
marks on both side of his body"
Deputies at the scene

Also in the room were two more children, Justin's four year old sister and one year old brother. Each of the other two children had bite marks, scratches and bruises on their bodies. All of the children were taken to the hospital and while there, Justin's sister said that Justin had a lot of blood coming out of his mouth, she was not able to tell anyone what had happened to cause the blood. These two children had serious injuries that included broken ribs, bruises on their faces and bit marks, but neither was as seriously injured as Justin.

An autopsy would show that Justin was most likely beaten and strangled, though Deputies were working together to find evidence to determine if Jonathan and Merissa would face any further charges related to the death of Justin. Friends and family were upset, they wanted someone to pay for what happened to Justin:

"I don't know why no murder charges have been filed. Justin didn't kill
himself, he didn't beat himself up
Megan R. - Neighbor

A report came out in June of 2014 Merissa was being held on a bond of $800,000. while Jonathan was being held on a bond of $100,000. on charges of abusing the other children in the home. Neither had been charged with anything related to the death of Justin. Jonathan admitted that the bite marks on the children had come from him during a game of "play biting". The couple had been together for about six months and Merissa was pregnant with her first child with Jonathan.

Jonathan had been released from prison in December after a one year sentence for gun theft. The arrest report says that two weeks after he had moved in with his girlfriend, he decided to move out. When he left, Jonathan took her 22 caliber pistol, jewelry and video games. He left a note saying he was moving out and went to the pawn shop to pawn some of the things he had stolen. Jonathan had been arrested several times in the past, though not for violence.
In September of 2015 reports said that while Justin's death was rule a homicide, neither Jonathan or Merissa had been charged with the murder. Justin was Merissa's child from a marriage to Justin Polk Sr., though I have found no reports that say who is the father of the other two children or the one Merissa was pregnant with at the time of Justin's death.

Also in September, reports said that Merissa had plead no contest on August 18th to a charge of child neglect, a charge not related to the death of Justin. Though Prosecutors would not comment further on the charge, a newspaper, The Sentinel, reported that uncovered records showed that charges of aggravated child abuse, child abuse and child neglect had either been dropped or for whatever reason, were not included in the plea of no contest. Jonathan had also plead no contest on August 17th and he was sentenced to five years in prison. Merissa didn't go to prison at all and was sentenced to serve eight years of supervised probation. While on probation, Merissa was not allowed to have contact with anyone under the age of 18 who was not one of her children. Sadly, her own children are the ones at risk with her.

An investigation showed that there had been three times that this family was visited by Investigators when the family was living in a mobile home. That mobile home was described as being disgusting, but at that time, there was no evidence of any child abuse or neglect. Below is another picture I found of Justin, while he is smiling, that makes me happy, what makes me sad is that once again,  his hair and face are dirty as though no one was bathing him or taking care of him properly.

The Florida Department Of Children And Families was to decided the terms of Merissa's contact with her children, at that time there were three, a seven year old boy, a four year old girl and a two year old boy. The children were staying with family members and there was an active case in Dependency Court for each of them. If Merissa violates her probation in any way, she would be facing up to 15 years in prison.

While looking for pictures of Justin, there are more of the two people who should have been taking care of him than there are of him. In their mugshots, they have the proper "sad faces" that they should have, but again, I am sure they are only sad because they got caught. They should be celebrating because someone has gotten away with murder.

This page was created on July 2, 2016
Death occurred in the state of Florida

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