Hours after a Milo man accused of murdering his 1-month-old son made his first court appearance, neighbors said they were shocked that a man they knew affectionately as “Reggie” could be accused of a crime so heinous.
Reginald Melvin, 28, is charged with depraved indifference murder in the death of Sylus Melvin, who was born July 28. Sylus died on Sunday, the Maine attorney general’s office said, but the circumstances surrounding the baby’s death have not been made public.
Sylus is one of four Maine children allegedly killed by a parent since early June, prompting a fresh round of scrutiny for the state’s child welfare system and an outside investigation into the deaths. In addition, an 11-month-old in Corinna overdosed on fentanyl late in June but survived.
Several of Melvin’s neighbors who lived with him in Standing Birches, a mobile home park on Birch Street in Milo, did not believe he was capable of such an act, describing him as friendly. They had never seen or heard of him being violent.
Yet Melvin’s criminal history dates back to March 2012 when he was charged with domestic violence terrorizing. Over the next six years, Melvin was charged more than half a dozen times with crimes of domestic violence, according to his criminal history. Last year and this year, he has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of drug possession and has been fined.
Some neighbors said they had heard loud arguing between Melvin and his girlfriend who lived at the residence. But “there was no violence there,” said one male neighbor who did not want to be named.
Melvin’s girlfriend was not home on Tuesday afternoon.
The neighbors said Melvin could often be seen playing outside with a young girl who also lived at the residence. Barbara Robinson said he was very attentive to her. She would often see him pulling her around in a small wagon.
“I’ve never seen any violence towards the kid, which is why I was shocked when they said he did something to his baby son,” said Robinson, who also used to encounter Melvin when she lived in nearby LaGrange. “I couldn’t believe it.”
A woman who lived across from Melvin described him and the girl as “two peas in a pod.”
After Sylus was born a month ago, she saw Melvin outside with him and the girl. One woman, who did not want to be named, said Melvin had proudly shown her a picture of the infant.
Police, including a crime lab vehicle, descended upon the house beginning on Sunday, and stayed there for the next two days. One neighbor said she saw police taking evidence out of the house in bags, including what appeared to be baby clothes.
Neighbors were still trying to make sense of the whole situation on Tuesday. They all said they were interested in hearing what comes out as police continue investigating.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Robinson said. “I just know the baby’s dead.”