Texas mom was reported 7 times to CPS before stabbing, killing her 5-year-old daughter, new docs say

Pooja Lodhia Image
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
CPS aware of untreated mental illness before mom killed child: Docs
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A Texas mom, Melissa Towne, was reported seven times to CPS before stabbing her 5-year-old daughter to death in Tomball, documents say.

TOMBALL, Texas (KTRK) -- It was a case that stunned everyone back in October after a mother showed up at a Tomball hospital and told nurses she had killed her 5-year-old daughter.

The Eyewitness News team requested several documents and now has details about multiple investigations leading up to the child's death.

On Oct. 16, 2022, police said Melissa Towne pulled up to a hospital and admitted to killing her daughter at a park. Investigators said Towne told nurses that she believed her daughter was evil.

Chanel Nichole Bradshaw-Towne, whose family called Nichole, was dead.

The details in the new release are so gruesome that ABC13 will not be reporting specifics of the alleged crime or previous cases, but they do show investigators were aware of a pattern of untreated mental illness before the murder.

In fact, in Nichole's short five years, her mother had been reported to CPS seven different times for concerns about her ability to take care of her daughter.

Four of those investigations ended with CPS determining the family was at a high-risk level.

In 2017, both parents were court-ordered to participate in safety training.

Documents show the father agreed and the mother did not, as she was in jail on another offense.

In 2020 and 2021, the mother again refused mental health services, according to documents obtained by Eyewitness News.

ABC13 spoke with an attorney, Mike Schneider, who specializes in CPS cases. Although he did not work on this particular case, he explains how CPS handles cases similar to Nichole's before she died.

"Clearly, CPS took it seriously to the extent that they investigated it," Schneider explained. "It looks like they tried what is called a safety plan where they got the parents to acknowledge that they needed to do things to keep the child safe."

These documents show that when Nichole died, investigators had an open case looking into possible medical and physical neglect.

While her mother did not have legal custody, the paperwork shows she was still caring for Nichole and living with the child's father.

The investigation was never completed because Nichole was murdered 10 days later.

"Even in cases where they are being monitored by a court, you don't have 24-hour eyes on these kids," Schneider said. "You just have to trust that people will do what you expect them to do, which is to protect kids."

Towne is in jail on a $15 million bond, charged with capital murder.

She has two other children, who are being cared for by other relatives.

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