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Girl, 3, starved to death, weighed 11 pounds, police say; parents charged

By Morgan Winsor, CNN
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Wed September 11, 2013
Carmen Ramirez (pictured) and Carlos Rivera have been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Carmen Ramirez (pictured) and Carlos Rivera have been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A couple are held in the starvation death of their daughter, 3
  • Carlos Rivera, 30, and Carmen Ramirez, 27, face third-degree murder, other charges
  • Four other children were removed from the couple's Philadelphia home, police said

(CNN) -- A Philadelphia couple were charged Tuesday in the starvation death of their 3-year-old daughter, who weighed only 11 pounds, according to police.

"I saw the photos, they were extremely disturbing," Philadelphia Police Homicide Capt. James Clark said of the girl at a news conference Monday.

Carlos Rivera, 30, and Carmen Ramirez, 27, brought their unresponsive daughter, Nathlayz Rivera, to Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia early Monday morning, where the child was pronounced dead at 1:59 a.m., according to Officer Jillian Russell.

Rivera and Ramirez were arraigned Tuesday afternoon on charges of third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child, according to Philadelphia District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson. Both parents are being held without bail, and their next court date is scheduled for September 25, Jamerson said.

According to officials at the Criminal Justice Information Center in Philadelphia, Rivera and Ramirez do not have legal representation and it's unclear when they will.

Four other children -- ages 9, 8, 7 and Nathlayz's 3-year-old twin -- lived at the couple's residence. The children were taken to a local hospital where they were examined and then transported to the Philadelphia Department of Human Services on Monday, Russell said.

The mother told detectives that Nathlayz had Down syndrome, police told CNN affiliate WPVI.

According to Dr. Nicole Avena, a weight loss specialist at the New York Obesity Research Center, a typical weight range for a 3-year-old girl of average height is between 30 and 35 pounds. But it is not unusual for a child with disabilities to have feeding difficulties, which can lead to weight loss if not appropriately handled by a pediatrician, Avena said.

The Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office declined to comment due to the active police investigation.

Police: Mother chained son to radiator for two weeks

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