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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, June 18, 2024


May 24, 2002 – Police have arrested the mother of Melea Pownell, the 3-year-old child who died on May 10 after what the territory's medical examiner later determined was a history of violent physical abuse.
According to a Police Department release, Sylvia Bird, 34, was taken into custody on Friday morning in connection with the child's death and was taken to Territorial Court, where bail was set at $75,000. Unable to post bond, she then was remanded to the Bureau of Corrections, the release said.
Bird's boyfriend, Derick Hoheb, 25, is facing 20 charges including first-degree murder, second-degree murder and multiple counts of child abuse, neglect and assault that stem from the May 10 death of Melea. Hoheb entered pleas of innocent to all of the charges Thursday. He is being held in jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Police say Pownell died on May 10 after Hoheb hit her in the head for playing with her food and on the back after she played with some items on a dressing table. Hoheb also has been charged with choking and hitting Pownell's 8-year-old sister on multiple occasions and on one occasion of pounding her head on the floor, according to court papers.
The Human Services Department removed the 8-year-old from Byrd's Altona home on May 2 after the girl told a teacher that Hoheb had beaten her, according to police. At the time of Melea's death, social workers had not determined that she also was in danger and should be removed, a Human Services official said last week.

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