PHOENIX (Wednesday, October 26, 2016)
On October 3rd, 2016, the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) and the Phoenix Police Department began conducting a joint investigation into the abuse of a 9 year old girl. Melissa Nicole Loyd and Michael Edward Dugger were arrested and are facing seventeen counts of child abuse.
The DCS had prior history with the couple, including a dependency case resulting in the placement of their children into foster care from 2006 to 2009. The parents successfully completed support services and per court order, were reunited with their children in 2009. Below is a list of all prior reports involving this family:
On August 24, 2004, a report was received alleging neglect, physical, and emotional abuse to the current victim’s sibling by the mother, Melissa Loyd. The allegations were unsubstantiated. The family was provided with information on services available in the community and the case was closed.
- On April 28, 2005, a report was received alleging physical abuse to the current victim’s sibling by the father, Michael Dugger. The allegation was unsubstantiated and the case was closed.
- On November 3, 2005, a report was received alleging neglect and physical abuse to the current victim’s sibling by the parents, Melissa Loyd and Michael Dugger. The report also alleged physical abuse to a cousin by Melissa Loyd. The allegations were unsubstantiated. The family participated in in-home services and the case was closed.
- On September 19, 2006, a report was received alleging physical abuse to the current victim’s sibling by the mother, Melissa Loyd. The allegation was substantiated and resulted in the removal of all of the children from the home. The Department filed a dependency petition with the Maricopa County Juvenile Court and was providing services to the family when a subsequent report was received.
- On June 5, 2007, a report was received regarding the current victim’s birth and concerns regarding Melissa Loyd and Michael Dugger. Since this child was born during the open dependency case and due to the prior substantiated physical abuse to her sibling, there were concerns that this newborn would be abused as well. The child was removed, placed into foster care and added to the dependency case. The allegations were unsubstantiated.
- On March 17, 2012, a report was received alleging neglect to the current victim’s sibling by the mother, Melissa Loyd. The allegation was unsubstantiated. The family was provided with information on services available in the community and the case was closed.
On July 16, 2016, the Department of Child Safety received an anonymous call alleging physical abuse and neglect regarding one of their children, but there was no valid address given. An investigation was initiated, and the agency began extensive efforts to find the child; including searching the Department of Education’s database. The children were not enrolled in school.
On October 3, 2016, a second call alleging neglect, physical and emotional abuse was received by the DCS Hotline. This report included a valid address. An investigative team responded and enlisted the help of the Phoenix Police Department. DCS and Police were met outside of the residence by Melissa Loyd who repeatedly said the child in question was not home. She offered to retrieve the child from a relative and contact DCS later in the evening. DCS staff refused to leave without seeing the child, and with the help of police officers, gained access to the residence and found the victim in deplorable condition.
The child was immediately removed from the home and hospitalized. She was found to have numerous broken bones and was diagnosed with refeeding syndrome due to starvation. On October 18, 2016, the parents were arrested for child abuse. The swift response of law enforcement and the agency is believed to be the reason the child is safe today.
"The abuse of any child is heartbreaking, but a child nearly dying from chronic, long term abuse grieves the soul," said DCS Director Greg McKay. “We can all remember tragedies where lying abusers gamed the system and avoided detection. I’m just so grateful to our dedicated staff and vigilant police officers for saving this angel.”
This case signals another change in the way DCS serves children under their care. DCS and Arizona Voice for Crime Victims have partnered to provide pro bono attorneys and services to represent child victims through the criminal process. This protects children’s rights as victims of crime.
McKay concluded, “We all owe this child our very best. Healing, comfort, safety, advocacy, and justice; I have no doubt, we’ll deliver just that.”