Frank Heinz

Aunt Charged With Capital Murder in Niece's Death

Police confirm the child's death would be investigated as a murder

A Mansfield woman is behind bars, facing a charge of capital murder in the death of her 9-year-old niece.

Mercia Sneed, 42, was arrested Saturday and charged with injury to a child not long after her niece Melodi Sneed was taken to Mansfield Methodist Hospital, where she later died of an unspecified cause.

At about 12:40 p.m. Saturday, Mansfield police were called to a home on the 4200 block of Eagle Drive where medics were providing CPR to a child reportedly suffering cardiac arrest.

After officers arrived and assisted medics, Melodi was transported to the hospital where, at about 1:30 p.m., she was declared deceased.

Mansfield police began an investigation into the girl's death and soon established a crime scene at the home.

Mercia Sneed, the girl's aunt, was arrested and charged with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury and ordered held on $500,000 bond.

According to a next-door neighbor, she had been staying with the family for a few days to try to get back on her feet.

That neighbor said Sneed came over acting erratic Saturday afternoon, talking non-chalantly about a "baby not breathing."

The child, her older sister and parents had just moved in earlier this month. People living nearby expressed their shock.

"I was actually pretty sad too because it is a child, she's innocent. She still had life to go, to look forward to," Omar Cardoza said.

On Wednesday, as the investigation unfolded, Mansfield police said the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the child's death a homicide and that Sneed will now face a charge of capital murder.

"This is very traumatic. That's why we're being very detailed with this. It's an extremely important case. A little 9-year-old girl has died, so we're going to be very thorough," Mansfield police Sgt. Travis Waybourn said.

Neither investigators nor the medical examiner revealed any additional information about the case, including how the child died.

Sneed, meanwhile, remains jailed in the Tarrant County Jail.

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