Caption

Police: Father, stepmom starved 10-year-old to death

Court records say DFCS let child stay with abusive stepmother

State child services dismissed 2010 allegations against the woman now accused of murder in the starving death of a Gwinnett County 10-year-old, according to court documents.

Emani Moss was found dead, her body burned, in a garbage disposal early Saturday morning, police said.

Her father, Eman Moss, and her stepmother, Tiffany Moss, have been charged in connection with the death and with trying to hide the body of a child officials say may have been dead since Wednesday.

According to Gwinnett County Superior Court records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, officials with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services signed off on a plea deal by then-Tiffany Nicole Brown that would give her five years probation on child cruelty charges for beating Emani in March 2010.

Eman and Tiffany Moss, both 30, are now in jail facing felony murder, first-degree child cruelty and concealing a death charges.

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Gwinnett County police responding to a suicide call from Eman Moss early Saturday morning found the burned body of his daughter Emani Moss in a garbage can near his apartment building.

According to arrest warrant affidavits obtained by The AJC for Eman Moss and Tiffany Moss, the couple allegedly “caused the death of the victim … by denying the victim enough food to live.”

Police claim that Emani had been kept from eating for as many as a dozen days, according to the arrest warrants.

“It appears as though the victim was emaciated,” Gwinnett County police Detective Collin Flynn told reporters on Monday.

Previous encounters with police document a history of abuse and cruelty allegations dating back to Emani’s infancy.

Gwinnett police said Eman Moss was charged with battery and second-degree child cruelty in 2004 for allegedly attacking Emani’s biological mother in front of a then-1-year-old.

In March 2010, Cooper Elementary School officials called police after Emani said she was afraid to go home with a bad report card.

Police found welts, scabs and bruises on the girl’s chest, arms, back and legs from being beaten with what was described as a broken belt, according to police reports.

Emani was 6 at the time.

Tiffany Moss, whose name was Tiffany Brown at the time and who police say was a teacher, was arrested and charged with first-degree child cruelty.

She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years on probation as part of the state’s First Offender program.

At her sentencing hearing, Tiffany Brown’s attorney, Eric J. Carter, told the court that DFCS dropped its case against her and Emani’s father, according to court documents.

“They have met with DFCS,” Carter said in the court transcript obtained by The AJC. “DFCS has dismissed their case against them. Her and (her) husband both have taken parenting class and everything that DFCS has requested.”

DFCS spokeswoman Ashley Fielding declined to comment late Monday.

In July 2012, police responded to reports of abuse when Emani ran away from home, but weren’t able to find evidence proving Emani’s claims, so her father and stepmother weren’t charged.

Police said Emani ran away from home again three weeks later. When she was found, she was charged as a runaway juvenile and with violating curfew and returned to her home, according to police reports.

“We charged her so that we could get her back into court,” Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Ed Ritter said. “We forwarded the case to DFCS.”

Eman Moss called 911 shortly before 4 a.m. Saturday claiming he wanted to kill himself, police said.

“We think the intention of the suicide call was to get us out there,” Ritter said.

When Gwinnett County police officers arrived at the Landmark at Coventry Pointe Apartments at Veranda Chase Drive in unincorporated Lawrenceville, Moss told officers his daughter Emani “drank some chemical and was dead.”

The Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s office has determined Emani’s death was a homicide, but is waiting for toxicology reports to say exactly how she was killed. Still, police disputed Eman Moss’ claims that the girl had ingested something that might have poisoned her.

“We do not believe there were any chemicals,” Flynn said.

According to the police incident report, Moss told police that “he panicked and did not know what to do,” and that he placed the girl’s body in a trash can outside his apartment building and tried to burn it.

Tiffany and Eman Moss were arrested and both are being held at the Gwinnett County Detention Center without bond.

The first court appearance for both is scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court.

— Staff reporter Aaron Gould Sheinin contributed to this article.

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