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Parents Charged In Starving Death Of Toddler Who Weighed Just 9 Pounds


Regis Johnson, 57, and Arhonda Tillman, 35,

Photo: Polk County Sheriff's Office

Authorities in Florida have charged the parents of a toddler who starved to death with child abuse. The Polk County Sheriff's Office said that deputies responded to an unresponsive child call at the home of Regis Johnson, 57, and Arhonda Tillman, 35.

They found the young girl, who was nearly three years old, dead in an inflatable pool in the backyard. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the toddler weighed just 9.5 pounds and showed signs of extreme starvation.

"This baby, this baby girl, this child that should've been thriving gained 1 ounce in two years and four months," Judd told reporters during a news conference. "If you could imagine looking at such a heartbreaking sight, basically it was just bones and skin."

"The baby should have been talking, putting sentences together, asking questions, telling (them), 'My diaper needs to be changed,' running, jumping, and playing," Judd added. "When this baby died ... she couldn't stand, she couldn't talk, she couldn't walk."

Judd said that the Department of Children and Families opened up an investigation of medical neglect in December 2019 because the young girl was severely underweight. The investigation was closed following several welfare checks in which the girl appeared to be doing better.

Johnson and Tillman were both booked on charges of negligent child abuse causing great harm. Johnson's brother, Frank Robinson, 64, who lived with the couple, was also charged with negligent child abuse causing great harm.