Sources say Dariaz Higgins' brother tortured 2-year-old with lighter, child's father speaks out
Milwaukee toddler who was burned repeatedly is speaking out about what happened to his son.
The 2-year-old boy, nicknamed ‘Melo,’ is healing after being burned by a man his mother is seeing. That man, 30-year-old Lamont Powell, is now facing three felony charges related to child abuse and neglect.
"That type of person, that type of spirit and evilness doesn't deserve a second chance in our society," said George Harrell, Melo’s father.
Court documents say Powell admitted to torturing and burning the child with a lighter repeatedly on September 21st, because he was mad at the boy's mother for not picking up her phone. The child was at a home the two shared on North 22nd Street.
Harrell says Melo immediately ran up to him the day police were called to the home.
"That day I saw fear in his eyes,” said Harrell. “I saw relief in his eyes, I saw all types of emotions on his face, and it broke my heart."
Harrell is emotional thinking about the torture his son endured. A medical exam determined the burns were extremely painful and may cause infection and lifelong scarring. Burns were found on Melo's head, stomach, armpit and legs.
"He took an open flame and held it up onto his armpit,” says Harrell. “He took and held it to his stomach, an open flame. He took it and held it to his face, an open flame. This man was just sitting there burning him. I mean he tortured my son."
Sources close to Powell’s family say Powell and Dariaz Higgins are related. They say the two are brothers who share the same mother, but have different fathers. Higgins is suspected of killing his 2-year-old daughter Noelani Robinson and her mother.
The information shocked Harrell.
"A family of individuals who enjoys hurting children, I've just never heard of that," said Harrell.
Powell told detectives he was trying to put Melo to sleep, but he wouldn't lie down. Powell and the boy's mother never went to the hospital after he was burned. Court papers say they only put Vaseline on the burns.
"This boy's mama was comfortable with this man treating him like that, I can't even understand why she's not locked up yet,” said Harrell.
For now, Harrell is focused on his son's healing both physically and emotionally. Experts say the most important thing to do is to nurture Melo at his young age.
"If a young person that experience abuses over and over and over again, then the chances of them carrying over some of that trauma mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically increases dramatically," said Ke’Andra Hagans, a clinical therapist at St. Charles Youth and Family Services.
"I don't want any physical scars on him, and I know with the proper love, the proper nurturing that I can heal his soul and I can heal his spirit," adds Harrell.
Harrell says he is turning his anger and frustration into action, he hopes to make an advocacy group for fathers who are against child torture.
Lamont Powell is due back in court October 10th.