Local News

Durham Woman Charged With Murder Of Adopted Daughter

Posted September 7, 2004

— A Durham woman has been charged with murdering her adopted daughter, who died last year of injuries suffered in 1995.

Melinda Ann Wilkins, 40, was arrested Tuesday in Durham and charged with the death of Melissa Wilkins. Melissa Wilkins, 9, died from complications of injuries she suffered on Aug. 16, 1995, when she was 19 months old, according to investigators.

Melinda Wilkins was originally arrested and charged with felony child abuse after Melissa Wilkins was admitted to Duke University Hospital. She served 2-1/2 years in prison.

At that time, investigators said the child, who was unconscious when she was taken to the hospital, suffered a blood clot on the brain, retinal hemorrhaging, a fractured back and a fractured skull. Investigators also said that doctors found evidence of old scars and rib fractures.

"This child never stood a chance," said Detective Art Holland of the Durham Police Department. "It was pitiful for an 18-month-old. The injuries on her body -- they were non-accidential."

Wilkins told police her adopted daughter fell off a couch. Later, she told detectives she had dropped Melissa.

Melissa Wilkins never recovered from the injuries and lived in residential treatment centers until she died in June 2003.

The Durham Police Department was not notified that Melissa Wilkins had died until July 29, 2004, when they were contacted by the State Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill.

Wilkins is in the Durham County Jail without bond. She will have a bond hearing on Wednesday.

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