Deputies of Chaves County Sheriff’s Office faced a shocking scene when they responded to a domestic dispute in the 400 block of West Hobson Road, Monday night. They found a 30-year woman and her 63-year-old husband arguing in the yard.
Lt. Britt Snyder said the wife showed obvious signs of physical trauma, but she denied that her husband was responsible.
Then one of the deputies noticed a little girl beating against a window. When Sgt. Scott Ouillette entered the home, he found a 5-year-old girl barricaded inside a room. “She was dirty. She looked like a wild animal,” said Snyder.
Authorities don’t know how long she had been kept confined. “They had three dog gates, either nailed or screwed into the frame, across the opening, so she couldn’t leave. They left a slit on the floor where they pushed the food in, like in a jail,” said Snyder.
Ouillette tore down the baracade and tried to talk to the girl. “She couldn’t speak, except in grunts and groans,” Snyder said.
According to Snyder, the little girl threw herself at Ouillette and would not let go. “That’s not a normal reaction to a police officer, with kids. It speaks volumes to us. … It makes you wonder how long it had been since the child had contact with another human being.”
Snyder said the conditions inside the home were deplorable, with “feces on the floor, the smell of urine in the air and dirty diapers both inside and outside the girl’s room.”
The girl was taken to the emergency room for assessment. “It was hard to tell if she was bruised or just dirty.” Snyder said.
No charges have been proffered against the mother and the father. In part, due to a ruling made in a New Mexico Supreme Court Case, New Mexico versus Julio Chavez, which states poverty and a dirty environment does not constitute intentional abuse or neglect. Each child, each case, must be investigated individually.
This is the second incident of this kind in Chaves County in less than a month. A Hagerman woman found her 19-month-old child dead. Official reports described the conditions as “deplorable.” The SO have yet to file charges on the Hagerman case. They await the autopsy results. In a previous interview, Snyder said: “It could just as easily be Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. We don’t know.”