Fla. Mom Allegedly Filled Baby Daughter's Bottle with Bleach: Police

Melissa Barnes, 22, is charged with child abuse and child neglect.

<p>Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office</p> Florida Mom Melissa Barnes

Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office

Florida Mom Melissa Barnes

A woman in Florida has been arrested on charges of child abuse and child neglect after a report was made to police in January alleging she had given her 13-month-old daughter a bottle with bleach inside.

At the time, Melissa Barnes, 22, claimed that she used bleach to rinse the bottle, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said in a press release on Tuesday, June 4.

The relative who made the report claimed that the mother and child were living in a "cold, cluttered, and unsanitary" shed with no electricity, per the release.

Upon removing the toddler, the relative attempted to feed the toddler but discovered that the bottle contained bleach, according to the release.

Police launched an investigation and the Department of Children and Families immediately removed the 1-year-old from Barnes and placed her with a relative, police say.

According to the release, detectives found "bleach-based disinfectant and paint" when searching the shed and the FBI laboratory confirmed the presence of "chlorine-based bleach" in the bottle.

"This case is deeply disturbing. No child deserves to be subjected to such dangerous and neglectful conditions," said Sheriff Chad Chronister 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."

Barnes was taken into custody by the Highlands County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, June 3, after the police obtained warrants for her arrest.

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Barnes is currently in jail in Highlands County. She will be extradited at a later date.

The case is still being investigated.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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