FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A father of five from Fort Worth is in jail charged in connection to the death of his 3-year-old.
Family members say Billy Joiner, Jr, should never have been allowed near his daughter, Elena.
“He just started punching her, punched her. She had a heart attack. She went into cardiac arrest,” said Miranda Malone, her aunt.
Relatives say they’re not sure what caused Joiner to snap Sunday, as her mother, Marissa, stood by.
“Marissa was saying the whole time that Billy was beating Elena, he was fighting like she was another grown ** man,” said her uncle, Matthew Malone. “She was just saying, ‘Daddy I love you. I’m sorry, I love you’ and he was just wailing on her.”
Elena’s family says her siblings, the couple’s four other children, all of them under the age of 5, saw what happened.
“The older daughter remembers my sister just saying, ‘Stop crying and he’ll stop hitting you. Stop crying and he’ll stop hitting you’,” said Miranda, who struggles to understand why her sister didn’t stop the assault.
Relatives say Elena arrived at the hospital with two black eyes, a broken arm, and bruises around her ears.
She’d suffered a traumatic brain injury, they say, and doctors removed a portion of her skull because of the swelling.
Her feet, family members say, had severe burns that were more than 24 hours old, revealing the abuse had gone on for days.
“He had stuck her in the bathtub and burned the skin off her feet,” said Matthew.
Ashley Lyons, a cousin of Elena’s mother, said she wants justice for the little girl.
“She was brutally beaten and tortured. Her last few months of her life was awful. He tortured her,” said Ashley.
Joiner, the family says, has a history of assault.
Court records show last year he was charged with choking Elena’s mother, hitting her with a plastic brook, and punching her. He was ordered to attend parenting classes. Then, that December, he was charged with threatening a potential witness with a gun.
“Let me be very clear. I want to make sure this is out there. He was not supposed to be in the home. He also had an ankle monitor,” said Ashley.
Relatives say, he was still wearing that ankle bracelet when he was arrested.
They believe someone should have been monitoring it and realized he had moved back into his children’s home, violating conditions, they say, were set by Child Protective Services.
Two months ago, though, court records show a judge ordered the GPS device could be removed.
“Family members started reaching out to CPS before the incident even happened. So, CPS was aware there was something going on in the home,” said Ashley.
CPS confirmed to CBS 11 it has a history with Elena’s family.
This week, it placed her four siblings, a 4 year old, a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and an 8 month old, into foster care. Family members say Elena’s parents are currently expecting their sixth child together.
A spokesperson said the agency is investigating Elena’s death and could not release additional information about the case.
“CPS told one of the family members at one point that we were harassing that family and that those kids are just fine,” said Matthew.
Relatives say Elena, along with her older sister, spent the first two and a half years of her life being raised by their great grandmother because of an ongoing CPS investigation. For a while, their aunt Miranda lived with them, too.
“She was so sweet. The sweetest little girl, always happy,” she said.
Last year, the family says the girls were allowed return to their mother.
“It feels like the system just failed those kids,” said another cousin, Breyona Denmon.
Despite being a victim of abuse herself, the family says, Elena’s mother kept going back to their father.
“We could not keep her away,” said Ashley.
While Elena lay in a hospital bed this week, relatives called to say their goodbye’s.
“It was heartbreaking. It really was heartbreaking,” said Miranda, who was able to see Elena over several video calls with her mother.
Miranda says her sister appeared in denial over the severity of her injuries.
“She kept saying, ‘There’s hope, you know. She’s gonna be okay. It’s okay’. And, I’m like, ‘no’,” she recalled.
On Wednesday, Dec. 1, Elena’s life support was removed. Within hours, Miranda says, her niece was gone.
Joiner is charged with injury to a child, a first degree felony.
If convicted, he could face life in prison.