HOUSTON - As the mother of a missing toddler faced a judge Monday, Local 2 Investigates was able to piece together the tragic history preceding the little girl's disappearance.
Sabrina Deleon, 26, has been charged with injury of a child by omission and tampering with evidence in the disappearance of her 3-year-old daughter, Lee'Onna Ramirez.
Court documents show Child Protective Services first took custody of the girl and her sibling in October of 2009.
Court records stated Lee'Onna, who was just five days old, tested positive for cocaine and marijuana. The girl and her her sister where then placed with a foster family.
"I never felt in my heart of hearts those children would ever have been returned to their mother, never," said Sheree Thanars, a retired CPS caseworker who placed Lee'Onna with foster parents.
Thanars said 48 hours after placing the children with foster parents, the case was handled by a different CPS unit. Thanars said she informally stayed in touch with the foster family and was surprised when Deleon regained custody of the girls. She said the foster parents still had concerns about Deleon and even hoped to adopt the girls.
"I was heartbroken, I was really heart broken because I was hopeful that the mother had gotten herself together and she was really taking care of these children," said Thanars.
Court records showed Deleon, who has a prior criminal history for theft and trespassing, worked to win back custody of her girls. After more than a year of counseling, drug rehab, parenting classes and treatment for bi-polar disorder, a judge ruled Deleon was a fit mother.
Following that ruling CPS, investigated another report of abuse in 2011 but reported the allegation was unfounded. As of 2011, CPS officials said the agency ended its involvement with the family.
In April of this year, CPS again entered the family's life when Chambers County Sheriff's officials said Deleon was involved in a rollover accident with her 6-year-old daughter.
Sheriff's officials said the child was wearing a seat belt but was not in a child safety seat. Sheriff's officials said the girl suffered internal injuries and was taken by Life-Flight helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital.
While checking on the family, CPS workers tried to follow up on Lee'Onna but said they got differing stories from Deleon. CPS workers said other family members reported they had not seen Lee'Onna since July 2012.
Deleon's mother, Lynette Mungia, said her daughter told everyone that Lee'Onna had been placed back into CPS custody.
"We knew that if she got caught by CPS again, in trouble, we wouldn't see the kids again so that's why we never questioned where this baby was," said Mungia.
Prosecutors said Deleon claimed Lee'Onna got sick and died. Investigators said Deleon told them she was afraid she'd get in trouble so she threw her daughter's body out in the trash.
Sheriff's officials said at this time, they have no way to prove or disprove Deleon's story. Investigators said given the passage of time, unless Deleon gives them more information they don't even know where to begin searching for the little girl.
Deleon is being held in the Harris County Jail on $150,000 bond and CPS took custody of her 6-year-old daughter. Deleon has a third child who lives with her father.
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