A Tucson toddler’s remains were found in a backyard toy chest by a landlord in Arizona after the three-year-old boy’s family had been evicted. Following the discovery of the skeleton, the boy’s 39-year-old mother and father were arrested on Tuesday, reported Tucson News Now on March 7, 2014.
The toddler’s mother, 39-year-old Raquel Barreras has been charged with one count of first degree homicide and one count of child abuse. The father of three-year-old Roman, 45-year-old Martin Barreras, was charged with one count of child abuse. Further charges may be filed pending the ongoing investigation.
On Tuesday afternoon around 3 p.m., the landlord was cleaning the property that the Barreras family had been evicted from and notified Tucson police after he discovered a skeleton in a plastic blue toy chest that was in an attached structure to the house. When police officers arrived, they confirmed that the skeleton was that of a young child.
After the toddler’s remains were found, an investigation showed that there had been previous reports about the family, but those reports were in regard to the older children because they had not been showing up for school. Police confirmed that Roman's parents had four more children including “a 19-year-old girl, a 12-year-old boy, a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old girl.”
The investigation following the discovery of the remains showed that the three-year-old was apparently “relegated” to living in the attached structure outside of the home. His remains were found inside a blue plastic toy chest inside of that structure. “According to TPD, the unit in which the remains were discovered had been vacant for some time. Villasenor said police had checked on the home in November 2012,” reported Tucson News Now on March 6.
A neighbor described that the family’s living habits were quite unusual. "They never went out in the day, you never saw the adults. They moved in at 3 in the morning. Everything they did they did at night or 2 or 3 in the morning. It was really kind of weird."
According to a March 6 News 4 Tucson report, documents show that “Roman was taken from his mother, Raquel Barreras, right after his birth in July 2010. According to the document, CPS took the baby because Raquel tested positive for methadone. But she denied any use of Oxycodone while she was pregnant with Roman. Family members tell the News 4 Tucson Investigators that all of the kids were taken into CPS custody during that time. The older children were sent to live with relatives. It's unclear when Raquel regained custody of Roman and her other kids.”
More details about the found Tucson toddler’s remains are still part of an ongoing investigation and are pending the results of a forensic analysis. Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor emphasized in a press conference on Wednesday that whether or not the older children knew that their youngest brother was dead, or in what condition the skeleton was would be made public, if possible, or be part of the trial against the three-year-old toddler’s parents.