Florida mom gave bottle filled with bleach to 13-month-old baby: Sheriff


Melissa Elaine Barnes (Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)

Melissa Elaine Barnes (Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)

A 22-year-old mother in Florida has been arrested after she allegedly gave one of her relatives a bottle filled with bleach and told the relative to feed her 13-month-old baby.

Melissa Elaine Barnes was taken into custody on Monday and charged with one count of child abuse and one count of child neglect in connection with the alleged poisoning attempt.

According to a news release from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, deputies on Jan. 2, 2024, responded to a call from a “concerned relative” who told the dispatcher that Barnes had just tried to feed the 1-year-old girl a bottle of bleach.

The relative told authorities that they found Barnes and the toddler living in an “unpowered shed,” which the relative described as being “cold, cluttered, and unsanitary.” The relative said they removed the baby girl from the shed and attempted to feed her with a bottle provided by Barnes. However, the child allegedly refused to drink the contents of the bottle.

“Upon inspection, the relative discovered the bottle contained bleach,” the sheriff’s office wrote in the release. “When questioned, Barnes claimed to have used bleach to rinse the bottle.”

Detectives with the sheriff’s office’s Special Victim’s Unit took over the investigation and agents with the Florida Department of Children and Families promptly had the 1-year-old girl removed from Barnes’ care and placed with a relative.

During the course of the investigation, authorities obtained and executed a search warrant on the shed in which Barnes was staying. Inside, deputies said they recovered “bleach-based disinfectant and paint.”

“The contents of the baby bottle were sent to the FBI laboratory for analysis, confirming the presence of chlorine-based bleach,” the release states.

Based upon the evidence obtained, detectives on May 28, obtained a warrant for the arrest of Barnes on the aforementioned charges. She was located and detained by deputies with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. Highlands County is about 110 miles southeast of Hillsborough County.

“This case is deeply disturbing. No child deserves to be subjected to such dangerous and neglectful conditions,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is committed to protecting our community’s most vulnerable, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that those who harm children are held accountable.”

Records show that Barnes is currently being held in the Highlands County Jail on an out-of-county warrant as she awaits extradition.

Barnes was convicted in January 2024 of misdemeanor resisting an officer without violence, according to court records.

The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a message from Law&Crime but emphasized that the investigation into Barnes remains ongoing.

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *