Family of toddler found dead investigated previously

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV learned there were three previous investigations into the parents of a toddler who was found dead inside an Orange County hotel room from what investigators said was severe abuse.

Justin Polk was found unresponsive more than a week ago.

Channel 9’s Kenneth Craig obtained copies of three previous investigations into his family, all of which said investigators had concerns, but never saw signs of child abuse.

The reports said investigators visited Merissa Anderson’s Sanford mobile home earlier this year.

Reports said the home was “disgusting,” with broken and dirty beds.

Records show it was third abuse or neglect investigation by the Department of Children and Families or the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office into the family since 2012.

Investigators made another visit to a Casselberry home in 2013 when Anderson claimed she was pushed into a hot stove by Justin Polk Sr., the father of two of her children.

While reports said the children were dirty, investigators felt the risk to them was low.

In 2012, DCF made its first visit for another domestic violence incident.

In all three trips, investigators reported no signs of physical abuse on the children.

But when authorities found them at the Countryside Inn three months later, all of the children showed signs of abuse, and the 2-year-old was dying.

Jonathan Charapta, his mother’s boyfriend, was reportedly supposed to be watching them, while she was at work.

Anderson and Charapta were arrested on child abuse charges.

Detectives are still working to piece together the homicide case.

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