Father abused 1-year-old with cigar, cinnamon, Apopka police say

Police upgrade charges to murder after baby dies

APOPKA, Fla. - A 23-year-old Apopka man was arrested on suspicion of burning his 1-year-old daughter with a cigar, pulling her hair and throwing her to the ground because he feels relieved when he causes her pain.

Apopka police said the girl died Saturday evening and charges against the father were upgraded to murder.

Rony Veus was arrested Thursday on charges of aggravated battery on a child, but those charges were upgraded Saturday evening.

The girl, identified as Honey by her grandmother, is in a coma with bleeding in the brain and is listed in guarded condition.  Honey will be 15 months old on Saturday, her grandmother told Local 6.

According to Apopka police, 911 was called around 1 p.m. about a girl who wasn't breathing and had no signs of a pulse.  Officers said they found Veus performing CPR on the girl, and he said he found her not breathing and unconscious, police said.

The 1-year-old was taken to a hospital, and the staff told investigators that they suspected the girl had been abused, Apopka police said.

"When something like this happens your heart goes out to that poor, defenseless child," said Officer Steven Popp of the Apopka police.

According to police, Veus admitted during an interview that he has thoughts of harming his daughter and feels relieved when he causes her pain or discomfort.

According to police, Veus said he has acted upon his thoughts by pulling her hair, pushing her down, throwing her on the bed and forcing her to eat cinnamon.  He also said he intentionally burned the top of his daughter's foot with cigar, according to police.

Local 6 spoke to Veus' mother, who said she never thought her son would abuse his own child but suspected something wasn't right.

"I asked him 'what's going on?' He said he don't know. I said 'what did you do with the baby I see something on her feet?' He say he don't know," said Veus' mother Maritelle Thelemaque.

The Florida Department of Children and Families are involved in the investigation. Veus is being held in jail on no bond first degree murder.

Neighbors tell Local 6 they were shocked to hear of the abuse.

"It's shocking any time it happens but as far as being two or three doors down that's even more," said neighbor Todd Harriman.

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