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Texas Parents Face Capital Murder Charges After Malnourished 8-Year-Old Boy Dies by ‘Manual Strangulation’

Megan Lange and Rodolfo Reyes

Megan Lange and Rodolfo Reyes

A 29-year-old mother and her 33-year-old husband in Texas may face the death penalty for allegedly starving and killing their 8-year-old son.

Megan Lange and Rodolfo Reyes were taken into custody this week and charged with one count each of capital murder to a person under the age of 10 and one count each of injury to a child for the child’s strangulation death, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

According to a copy of the probable cause affidavit obtained by NBC affiliate KWES-TV, officers with the Odessa Police Department and personnel with Odessa Fire and Rescue on Nov. 5 responded to a 911 call regarding an unresponsive child at a residence located in the 2000 block of North Huntington Avenue.

By the time police arrived on the scene, medics were already performing life-saving procedures on the child. Medics reportedly said that the child appeared to have sustained “suspicious injuries” all over his body, including lacerations on his head, back, and legs. He was also small for his age and appeared malnourished, the Odessa American reported.

The boy was transported via ambulance to Medical Center Hospital. However, shortly after arriving at the facility, the succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead. The Odessa American reported that the victim’s name was Arturo Francisco Coca.

Detectives then opened up an investigation into the circumstances of the boy’s fatal injuries.

In an interview with investigators, Lange reportedly said that earlier in the day she had assisted her son to the bathroom after he accidentally defecated and urinated on himself. She reportedly claimed that she assisted him to the bathroom and helped him get cleaned up, then said that the two of them went into the living room. While in the living room, Lange reportedly claimed that the boy was talking to her when he suddenly fell backwards and hit his head, causing him to stop breathing. That was when she claimed to have called 911.

The six other children who lived in the home reportedly told investigators that Reyes — Arturo’s stepfather — was in the house at the time that Arturo was fatally wounded. In a voluntary statement, Reyes reportedly told investigators that he was present in the house when the child sustained his fatal injuries, but claimed that he was not the cause of those injuries. He then reportedly refused to say anything else and requested legal counsel.

Lange reportedly said that her son lived with diabetes and that this caused his death, but medical professionals disagreed.

During a subsequent autopsy, doctors reportedly found that the little boy had hemorrhaging throughout his neck and was severely malnourished. A forensic pathologist who examined the boy’s body reportedly determined that the child’s manner of death was a homicide and the cause of death was “asphyxiation by manual strangulation” with neglect/malnourishment as a contributing cause of death.

A county judge on Thursday issued arrest warrants for both Lange and Reyes and deputies with the sheriff’s office took them into custody on Monday.

According to court filings from 2016, the grandmother of at least one of her children has previously called Child Protective Services in Lange, but CPS “have closed their cases and not removed” the child or children from her care.

[Image via Ector County Sheriff’s Office]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.