Parents fatally starved their 2-year-old son, found him dead in his crib


Michigan couple has been arrested for allegedly starving their 2-year-old son to death. Jonathon Matthew Cheek, 25, and Sierra Pearl Zaitona, 27, were charged Monday with second-degree murder and child abuse in the second degree, according to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office.

The parents reported finding their toddler son dead in his crib on March 16, authorities said.

“The coroner determined the cause of death was starvation,” prosecutors wrote.

In court, the state maintained the toddler’s health was fine before he landed in their custody.

“For the record, the child was healthy in foster care, and once it got into the care of these two individuals, it met its demise,” said Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Molly Zappitell at an arraignment, according to the Macomb Daily.

It is unclear why the child was previously in foster care or when he was returned to Zaitona and Cheek.

Prosecutors described the victim as Cheek and Zaitona’s biological son.

Zappitell presented the couple as a flight risk and requested a high bond.

“There is no reason for her to stay,” she reportedly said, speaking of Zaitona. “In fact, she had the baby in Ohio to avoid alerting CPS.”

“That is not true,” Zaitona said, according to WDIV.

“Don’t say anything,” her attorney told her.

Magistrate Ryan Zemke set bond at $1 million. The couple must each wear a GPS tether if released, prosecutors said.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for April 3.

“I would like to thank the Clinton Township Police Department for their hard work during this investigation in the child’s death,” said Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido.


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