(KMOV) -- An investigator described the abuse of Mia Caito as the worst he has ever seen. Julian Gates, 22, is charged with the girl's murder, and police say more charges could follow through the course of their investigation.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is investigating allegations of abuse against Gates and allegations of neglect against Mia's mother. DCFS Spokesman Kendall Marlowe says the department has not had any previous cases involving the couple. DCFS took custody of Mia's two older brothers and placed them with relatives until the investigation is over.
"I loved her," Larry Caito, Mia's dad, said. "I loved how she smiled. She used to have, like, when she smiled she had the biggest smile - so friggin' big."
Caito didn't get to say goodbye to his daughter Mia. The 3-year-old was at her mother's home when she was beaten so badly, her body gave in to the abuse. Police say Julian Gates did it while babysitting Mia, his girlfriend's daughter.
"My sister had called me and told me that she had already passed," Caito said.
Neighbors told News 4 that they heard Gates screaming at the girl and beating her again and again. Police say Mia's entire body was covered in bruises. The Belleville News Democrat reports that Mia's injuries were in various stages of healing and that the coroner says abuse happened over time. Larry says the person who did this to his little girl -- and anyone who knew about it -- should be punished.
"If she knew abuse was going on and she let it continue, yeah, she should be charged," Caito said. "If she saw bruises on her and she didn't stop him, then yeah."
"They need to make sure that [Gates] gets full punishment and he needs to suffer," Jennifer Williamson, Mia's aunt, said. "That little girl did not need to suffer. She did not deserve that."
"They're nothing. They're nobodies," Caito said. "I don't see how anyone could do that."
A memorial fund is set up for Mia Caito to help pay funeral and burial costs. Donations can be made under the "Mia Caito Memorial Fund" at any U.S. Bank location.