A Texas woman was arrested Tuesday for murdering her fiancee’s 2-year old daughter, after police found video footage that showed her shopping for murder supplies with the toddler.
Melinda “Mindy” Lynn Muniz, 24, will be charged for capital murder in the January death of Grace Ford. Texas police say Muniz staged a break-in on the day Mitch Ford, the girl’s father, was set to break off their engagement. Police found video footage from earlier that day that showed Muniz buying duct tape, zip ties, and kitchen shears just like the ones used in the attack, with the toddler sitting in her shopping cart.
Ford called 911 after receiving a phone call from Muniz in which he said he heard a thump in the background, his daughter screaming, and Muniz saying “help.”
When officers arrived at the apartment, they allegedly found Muniz on the floor with her pants and underwear down, and Grace in her bed with duct tape over her mouth. Grace was blue and unconscious and was immediately taken to the hospital. The affidavit states that when officers tried to question Muniz about what happened, she “fainted” but appeared to be forcing her eyes closed.
Muniz told police that an intruder forced his way in to the apartment, punched her in the face and raped her. But police began to suspect the break-in was staged after Muniz introduced inconsistencies to her story, such as whether or not she spoke to Grace during the attack and whether or not the intruder unbuttoned and unzipped her pants. The crime scene also seemed arranged, according to the affidavit.
Officers noted that while Muniz’s cheeks seemed red, she did not appear to have bruises consistent with the attack, and though she seemed to “display grief” she wasn’t crying any tears. Later, the nurse who performed the rape kit concluded there was no vaginal trauma consistent with sexual assault.
Although Grace was found without underwear or pants, doctors found no evidence of sexual assault. They also said her injuries were more consistent with suffocation than strangulation. Grace died on Jan 12, after significant brain swelling from asphyxiation. Police found none of the packaging for the duct tape or zip ties used to restrain Grace in the apartment, but police say records from the building’s security system indicate that Muniz may have left to dispose of the packaging and then returned before calling Ford.
Muniz checked herself into a local hospital for amnesia on the day following the attack, claiming she couldn’t remember anything that had happened to her for the last year. Ford said he and Muniz met for drinks after his daughter’s death, and she pretended not to recognize him. They later had sex in his car.
Muniz has not yet entered a plea and does not yet have a lawyer, John Norton, Lieutenant Public Information Officer for Collin County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to TIME.