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Melissa Shales and Michael Shales

‘The most horrific examples of child abuse that I’ve ever seen’: Couple sentenced for cutting twin baby’s throat with pliers, breaking bones

A Tullytown, Pennsylvania couple was ordered on Friday to spend 10 to 20 years in prison for continuous physical abuse against their infant twin daughters.

Bucks Local News reports that Michael Shales, 31, and Melissa Shales, 26, were both found responsible for their roles in the physical abuse against their twin babies that started when the infants, now 17 months old, were only 2 months old. The presiding judge over the case said that it was “one of the most horrific examples of child abuse that I’ve ever seen.”

Court documents indicate the Melissa Shales broke multiple bones on one of the twins. The toddler now needs physical therapy while learning to walk. Michael Shales, while high on heroin, cut the infant’s throats with a pair of pliers while he was high on heroin. Afterwards, he didn’t seek out medical assistance for the baby. The victim now has to eat from a feeding tube.

Posted by Melissa Shales on Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Last month, both defendants pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children. Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Raymond F. McHugh gave each suspect 14 years for the assault charges. He added three to seven consecutive years each for the endangerment charges.

“I believe that both of these parents tortured their children. I don’t know which is worse: to injure a child, or to fail to get a child treatment,” the judge said.

The child abuse was discovered on March 21, 2016, when authorities visited the couple’s Tullytown home. Reports indicate that the home was trashed out, unkempt, and unfit for children to live in. Dirty dishes, dirty toys, soiled diapers, sharp tools, and bullets were found strewn about the house.

Police found both babies severely malnourished. One of the infants was having trouble breathing and continued to gurgle. When questioned, the couple admitted that Michael Shales used pliers in an attempt to retrieve a piece of gauze lodged in the baby’s throat.

On the day the pliers incident occurred, Michael Shales left the home in the morning to purchase $120 worth of heroin. When he returned, Melissa Shales was so angry that she threw one of the babies she was feeding. The infant landed into the aluminum rails of a daybed. Melissa then stormed out without checking on the infant.

Michael Shales injected himself with heroin, then tried to help the baby by wiping the inside of her mouth with a piece of gauze.  The gauze became lodged in her throat, and when he couldn’t retrieve it with his fingers, he used pliers, causing punctures in the baby’s esophagus and throat.

A week before police intervention, Melissa Shales grabbed the same infant’s leg while bathing her and “heard a pop.” The couple tried unsuccessfully to twist the baby’s bone back into place. They never called for medical assistance. When police arrived, the baby’s leg was “the size of a 1-year-old” from extreme swelling.

The other twin baby had several fractures due to “non-accidental trauma,” meaning the infant was likely shaken, pulled, and twisted.

Both infants had only gained two pounds since birth.

Melissa Shales told the judge that she worked 40 hours a week on minimum wage, only to come home to an abusive Michael Shales, who frequently belittled her and hit her. She also admitted that she used methamphetamines, which caused her to become violent. She blamed her drug addiction on her husband, claiming that “ [Michael] told me that sex would be better.” She said she was too afraid to question him.

No words…I am disgusted that he was even capable of this… Mike Shales I don't know what happened to you to make you this monster but I never would have thought this was possible from you…

Posted by Kimberly Smith on Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Michael Shales, however, told a completely different version of events. He said that after he was injured during a criminal assault, his injuries, along with drug addiction, resulted in lack of work. He said his wife would often physically abuse him, but is now trying to put the blame on him.

Both defendants, according to family members, grew up in “good homes.” McHugh stated that being from good homes made the crimes even worse.

“It’s horrific. It shakes my faith in human beings.”

[Feature Photo: Police Handout]