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Mother starved 4-year-old child who weighed 18 pounds, police say

Abusive Behavior

A Santa Ana mother has been charged with starving her 4-year-old daughter who weighed just 18 pounds, police said Thursday.

Antonia Benitez has eight other children ranging in age from 4 years old to 16 years old, the Santa Ana Police Department said.

The case began on June 3 after the 35-year-old mother allegedly dropped off the 4-year-old daughter at a local hospital and fled. The child was suffering from malnutrition and open wounds, according to police.

Officers went to Benitez's home and discovered the other children. All of the children have been turned over to social service officials.

Benitez was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail and was charged by the Orange County district attorney's office with three counts of felony child abuse, police said.

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