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By Drew Karedes

Houston (KHOU/CNN) - A 23-year-old in Texas is accused of viciously beating her little sister over a bag of Cheetos.

But the story goes much deeper.

It's believed the woman has been raising her sister since she herself was a child. And authorities have uncovered what they say is a pattern of physical abuse.

Now, many are asking whether the abuse should have been caught earlier.

She might not have wanted to raise her 10-year-old sister, but documents say Deby Mejia claims she was forced into that role when she was just a teenager after their mother was deported to Honduras in 2006.

"When she got mad at her, she would punish her, not very good," said an unnamed neighbor.

This time, documents say, things got physical inside the apartment. Meija reportedly whipped the little girl with an extension cord and banged her head on the floor enraged because the child was eating Cheetos. The neighbor says punishment was not unusual there.

"She put her outside kneeling on rice and with a bucket of water on her head," said the neighbor.

Now CPS spokeswoman Estella Olguin says there may have been a pattern of abuse. In fact, school counselors are telling CPS that the girl has come to school with injuries before.

"Apparently this was not a onetime incident. It was a common occurrence," said Olguin.

[Reporter]: "If school counselors are saying this isn't the first time this has happened. Is it safe to say there was a lapse in communication somewhere?"

"We don't know. We've looked in our records to see if we have previous history, but we can't find any," said Olguin.

School counselors claim they have notified CPS in the past, though Olguin says there is no record of that and there's also no record of CPS being notified by immigration officials.

"Had we received a report that a child was caring for a child, that a minor was caring for another minor, that would be something we would definitely get involved and work with ICE," said Olguin.

Now CPS might be working with the consulate in Honduras to track down the girl's mother. This after Mejia reportedly told investigators she has no remorse for what happened, saying she resents her sister for being born and never loved her.

The little girl in this case is now in foster care, and her older sister likely won't be attending a custody hearing set for next week because she's in jail.

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