Another Sickening Case of Child Abuse in Valley of the Sun

Today is Friday -- a day that ends with the word "day," which, sadly, seems to mean one thing here in the Valley: someone was arrested for beating up a kid.

The latest contestants for Parents of the Year are 22-year-old Melissa Chambers and her 26-year-old boyfriend, Travis Darrah.

Chandler Detective Seth Tyler tells New Times Child Protective Services received an anonymous tip that a 4-year-old boy was in a Valley hospital with a broken leg and other injuries. The tipster told CPS the injuries were the result of ongoing abuse by his mother and her boyfriend.

According to court documents obtained by New Times, the boy was located at Cardon's Children's Hospital on July 13.

Also at the hospital was Chambers, who told police she and Darrah -- who's not the victim's father, but the father of Chambers' younger children -- were in the kitchen of their home when they heard screaming coming from the boy's room where he and his sister were supposed to be taking a nap.

Chambers told police the boy's sister told her he'd fallen off a dresser while trying to turn on a DVD player.

The boy was taken to Chandler Regional Hospital, but moved to Cardon Children's Hospital because his broken leg required surgery.

An officer went to the couple's home, on Mesquite Road in Chandler, and interviewed Darrah.

From the outset of the interview, the officer notes in his report, Darrah seemed nervous. The officer also noticed several holes in drywall throughout the house. Darrah explained that each of the holes was from various accidents.

Darrah told the officer the boy had fallen from a bunk bed, which didn't quite match the story his girlfriend told police about how the boy had fallen from a dresser. Adding to the suspicion was the fact that there was no bunk bed in the home.

Darrah tried to explain away the absence of the bunk bed by telling the officer he and a friend had taken it to the Gilbert City Dump where it was destroyed because he felt so bad that the boy had hurt himself by falling off of it.

Meanwhile, the officer located the anonymous caller who initially tipped off CPS about the alleged abuse. The tipster told police that she'd seen some of Chambers' text messages indicating that Darrah was responsible for the boy's injuries, and that he beat the boy because he'd eaten the couple's younger daughter's macaroni and cheese. Chambers says in one text that Darrah had "gotten a little too crazy and hurt him."

Chambers, when confronted with the text messages, changed her story about what happened. She told police the boy had eaten his sister's food so she put him in a corner. She told police she watched as Darrah grabbed the boy by the arm and walked him down the hall. Then she heard crying.

She told police that "in her head" she knew Darrah had caused the boy's injuries.

Darrah was arrested later that day, at which point he admitted to lying to police. He told them he was walking down the hall with the boy when he tripped and fell on him. He later changed the story to say he was walking down the hall with the boy when he tripped and pushed him out of the way so he wouldn't fall on him.

Darrah is described in the arrest report by multiple sources as "violent," and "angry."

Both Darrah and Chambers were booked on one count each of child abuse. Chambers also faces on count of hindering prosecution for lying to police. The two have each been released on bond. The boy is in CPS custody.

Darrah and Chambers are only the most recent Valley parents suspected of abusing their children. Click here to read about the Tempe couple who left their 11-month-old baby in a bathtub. Click here to read about 6-year-old Jacob Gibson, who died earlier this week after his parents beat him with a wire hangar. And click here to read the heartbreaking story of Ame Deal, the Phoenix 10-year-old who died after members of her family locked her in a tiny footlocker overnight.

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James King
Contact: James King