Mother of toddler allegedly killed by dad's girlfriend speaks out about past abuse

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by SHON GABLES / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on January 30, 2014 at 8:54 AM

PLANO — Mitch Ford, the father of slain two-year-old Grace Ford, went to the Collin County jail Wednesday night to visit his fiancée, Melinda Muniz. She is accused of capital murder in Grace's death.

Speaking to WFAA earlier Wednesday, Ford was emotional, and told us he felt Muniz had been lying to him during their entire relationship. He said it was his fault he had fallen for it.

Ford's ex-wife and Grace's mother, Emily Ward, is talking only to News 8. While she admits she was not the perfect mother, she said there was a bitter custody battle over Grace.

Now Ward is suffering.

"I don't deserve any more heartache," she said, while still managing a smile. She attributes it to her faith in God, and the hope that she can one day forgive the woman accused of killing her daughter.

"I'm going to have to do it — not because she deserves forgiveness, but because I deserve peace," Ward said.

Ward said since 2012, she and ex-husband Mitch Ford fought bitterly over his fiancée, Melinda Muniz. Ward claims Muniz had been abusing Grace. She said Ford refused to listen.

"He has eyes; he can see what was going on," Ward said.

Since 2012, Child Protective Services investigated four allegations of child abuse involving Grace; two were for physical abuse, two for neglect.

Ward claims that in one case, Grace suffered bruises to her ears, arms and legs.

On Halloween night, Ward said CPS was called to another scare after Grace was admitted to the hospital for a Benadryl overdose.

Then in December, Ward said CPS was summoned to investigate bruises on Grace's arms. CPS told News 8 in each case the allegations were either ruled out or agents were unable to substantiate them.

"We have to look at all the facts," said CPS spokeswoman Shari Pulliam. "We need to go back and see what we could have done better; what we did wrong, correct it next time."

Ward said on January 9 — when her daughter was found unconscious inside a Plano apartment with her mouth duct-taped — she instantly suspected Muniz.

"I knew right away it was Melinda that did it, and I was saying that from the beginning," Ward said, adding that she never believed Muniz or her daughter had been assaulted by strangers.

Ward said she is happy to know Muniz has been charged with Grace's murder.

"The death penalty? I don't think we have the right to play God and take someone's life, even though she took my baby's life," Ward said. "I also feel like the death penalty would be too easy."

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