Abilene couple accused of starving toddler for years, killing by locking in freezing bathroom arrested

EDITOR’S NOTE: The information and especially court documents included in this article is explicit and some may find it disturbing. Please use discretion before reading further.

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene couple accused of starving a toddler for years before locking him in a freezing bathroom, causing him to die of hypothermia, has been arrested.

Syhtel Lee Limuel and Mark Anthony Nieves were both taken into custody in Taylor County Wednesday on several warrants, including multiple counts of Injuring a Child and Abandoning/Endangering a Child. Limuel is also charged with Aggravated Kidnapping and Nieves is also charged with multiple counts of Assault of Pregnant Person and Evading Arrest.

All charges are related to an incident that occurred in San Angelo in January 2024.

Court documents state a 3-year-old boy named Josiah was brought to the hospital with a body temperature that was so low, he was unresponsive and died.

Investigators then learned, through interviews and crime scene photographs, that Josiah was likely locked in a freezing bathroom with no blankets and heat while the outside temperature was lower than 40 degrees.

Doctors who performed Josiah’s autopsy believed the temperature of the tile floor where Josiah was found lying, coupled with the child’s malnourishment (documents state he was in the 55th percentile at 1 month of age, 17th percentile at 1 year of age, 1 percentile at 3 years of age, and 0 percent at the time of the incident) led to his death.

The doctors also found Josiah’s body showed signs of chronic stress and abuse, including multiple bruises, abrasions, and scars all over his face, neck, and body that were in various stages of healing.

Text messages summarized in the documents between Limuel and Nieves show that they had been corresponding about using food restriction to punish Josiah and they also admitted to forcing him to sit in front of the toilet on more than one occasion because he had problems with going to the bathroom on himself.

In the messages, both Limuel and Nieves allegedly admit they know they are starving Josiah and causing him to be unhealthy and that they need to stop leaving bruises on him.

They reference multiple occasions where they hide or withhold food from Josiah while he was starving and also talked about how he needs to be punished.

The documents also reveal that the messages contained three videos from the night Josiah died, showing him uncontrollably shaking while he was trying to eat a sandwich and also showing him sitting on the bathroom floor wheezing and shaking while rocking back and forth involuntarily. Doctors say these are signs of severe distress and indicated Josiah needed immediate medical attention.

Read more about the allegations against Limuel and Nieves, as well as a couple of incidents involving other children, in the court documents below:


No further information is available at this time.

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