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Mother charged with killing 5-year-old daughter she called 'evil' had troubling history with CPS

Melissa Towne is charged with capital murder in the 2022 death of Nichole Bradshaw-Towne. CPS documents obtained by KHOU 11 reveal multiple red flags.

HOUSTON — The woman charged in the horrific death of her 5-year-old daughter in Tomball last October had a troubling history with CPS dating back five years.

Melissa Towne, 37, is charged with capital murder and police said she confessed to killing Nichole Bradshaw-Towne by cutting her throat and suffocating her with a trash bag. Towne thought Nichole was "evil" and compared her to "Chuckie" from the horror movies, court records showed. She said Nichole wasn't like other children.

Editor's note: The video above originally aired on Oct. 18, 2022.

CPS documents obtained by KHOU 11 reveal there were multiple red flags that Nichole could be in danger dating back to 2017 when she was a baby. They were notified about suspected abuse 10 days before Nichole was killed.

Towne no longer had custody of three other children.

RELATED: Woman called daughter 'evil' as she cut her throat, suffocated her at Tomball-area park, documents say

What happened

Graphic warning: Some people may find the details of this story disturbing.

Prosecutors said Towne made a conscious decision to end her daughter's life when she took her to Spring Creek Park on Oct. 16, 2022. 

Towne told Nichole to get on her knees while pulling a knife out of her bag, according to court records. The little girl fought back and said she had been good but Towne cut her throat with a pocket knife that was found in Towne's pocket. When she didn't die, Towne put a trash bag on the child's head to suffocate her and sat on her for approximately 30 to 45 minutes until she was lifeless.

According to investigators, Towne drove Nichole to a Tomball emergency room and asked hospital staff for a wheelchair for her child, telling the staff her body was hurting.

An ER nurse walked out to the Towne's Jeep and discovered Nichole wrapped in plastic and a bag, according to court documents. Investigators said she had visible cuts to her neck and doctors pronounced her dead minutes later.

Investigators said Towne admitted to Tomball police that she killed Nichole at Spring Creek Park before driving her to the hospital, but authorities said they weren't able to find any signs of a crime scene at the park.

In court, it was also revealed that Towne was not the custodial parent of Nichole.

CPS records

  • Oct. 6, 2022 – Ten days before Nichole was killed, CPS was notified that the girl was covered in scars and insect bites and smelled of urine. She complained of vaginal pain and had a discharge  Nichole wasn't in school, wasn't potty-trained and was still wearing diapers, according to CPS. She was living in an RV with her father and Towne. CPS said they opened an investigation but Nichole was left with the couple. 
  • Jan. 2021 and Nov. 2020: CPS was alerted about concerns for the safety of Nichole's newborn sibling. Towne was posting strange things on social media and relatives believed she needed psychiatric help. The sibling's father, who wasn't Nichole's father, agreed to take custody of the baby and move in with his parents. They agreed not to allow Towne to see the baby. CPS said Towne refused to get treatment and wasn't caring for any other children at the time. It's not clear who had custody of Nichole.  
  • June 2017 - July 2017: There were four reports of erratic behavior by Towne and it was believed she had untreated schizophrenia. She believed Nichole, then an infant, was talking to her. She was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital during the investigation and Nichole was placed with her father and paternal grandparents. Towne was later given visitation, according to the court documents, and she had Nichole on weekends. During a supervised visit, she locked herself in a bathroom with the baby. It's not clear when Nichole's parents reunited or whether CPS was aware Nichole was living with Towne again.

Towne's attorney, James Stafford, believes his client will eventually be declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. 

Child Protective Services issued this statement after Nichole's death.

“Child Protective Services is investigating this tragic death alongside law enforcement. The child’s mother, Melissa Towne, does have prior history with CPS, but specific details of CPS investigations are confidential according to law. Ms. Towne has three additional children ranging in age from 2 years old to 18 years old who are safe and have been living with other family members.”

The family of Nichole's father, James Bradshaw Jr., issued this statement:

"We are devastated and in complete shock over the loss of Nichole.

"We ask for privacy and respect for Nichole’s father, James, and our family as we all figure out how to grieve her horrible loss and try to figure out how to go on from here. Nichole has grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and a father that all loved her dearly and never thought such a tragic event would happen to such an innocent child.

"She will always hold a special place in all of our hearts. We will always remember her as the sweetest little girl who never met a stranger. She was so full of love and giggles and her bright blue eyes shined so full of curiosity.

"We are hoping and praying justice will be served and the heartless monster who took our sweet girl away from us pay for the innocent life she took.

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