Police say the little girl who loved animal crackers and Minnie Mouse was suffocated with duct tape by her father’s fiancée, Melinda Lynn Muniz.
The 25-year-old was in the middle of a break-up with Grace’s father when she allegedly concocted a story about an intruder attacking her and Grace. But police said her story was inconsistent and they determined that less than an hour before the attack, Muniz took Grace to a Dollar Store, where she bought silver duct tape, nylon cable ties, kitchen shears and cotton swabs.
Grace's parents, Mitch Ford and Emily Ward, were involved in a custody battle in court over the toddler. Child Protective Services investigated four previous abuse allegations involving Grace.
Ward told The Dallas Morning News that her daughter should not have died the way she did. “We were trying so hard,” said Ward, who was fighting for regular visitation. “I was reaching out to whoever would listen to me.”