A Tucson toddler’s remains found by an Arizona landlord cleaning out an evicted family's home have led to arrests and charges against the 3-year-old boy’s parents. The mother and father allegedly stashed their son’s remains in a toy chest and took off, vacating their home and leaving his remains behind.
According to the LA Times on March 6, Raquel Barreras, 39, and Martin Barreras, 45 were arrested and charged in the death of their son, Roman, whose skeleton was left behind when the family of six, including four other children between the ages of 4 and 19, was evicted from their three-unit dwelling on West Idaho St. earlier this year.
Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said the boy's remains were located in a blue toy chest in “an attached structure” outside of the home, where the Barreras allegedly made the 3-year-old stay as punishment.
“How anyone could do that to someone is very difficult to understand,” Villasenor said. “We want to make sure we're very thorough in investigating this type of case.”
Police had been to the home on multiple occasions because school officials reported that the older children were constantly missing from school, but since Roman was too young to attend, police had no idea that he may have been missing, harmed or dead.
“There were never indications of any physical abuse,” Villasenor added, although medical examiners are reviewing the remains to determine if there is any evidence of injuries and abuse as they look for the cause of death.
The remaining children – two daughters ages 4 and 7, and a son age 12 – have been put into protective custody. A 19-year-old teenage daughter had moved out.
According to court filings, the children told investigators that their mom "starved the child until death and put the child in a toy chest in the backyard."
Former neighbor Miguel Rabago said the family, who was evicted last December, struck him as very strange.
“They never went out in the day, you never saw the adults,” Rabago said. “They moved in at three in the morning. Everything they did they did at night or two or three in the morning. It was really kind of weird.”
The parents are being held in Pima County Jail.