ALBUQUERQUE -- A suspect in the brutal murder of a 10-year-old girl that’s shocked a New Mexico community was supposed to be on supervised probation for a past offense at the time of the crime, but wasn’t, reports CBS affiliate KRQE.
Details of what New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and law enforcement officials described as an unspeakable crime emerged in a criminal complaint made public Thursday. Police said the elementary school student, Victoria Martens, was injected with methamphetamine, sexually assaulted, strangled and stabbed before being dismembered. Investigators discovered her remains partially wrapped in a blanket and set ablaze in an Albuquerque apartment bathroom early Wednesday.
The killing happened on the day the girl was going to celebrate her 10th birthday.
“This homicide is the most gruesome act of evil I have ever seen in my career,” Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden Jr. said.
The girl’s mother, 35-year-old Michelle Martens, her 31-year-old boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, and his 31-year-old cousin, Jessica Kelley, face charges of child abuse resulting in death, kidnapping and tampering with evidence. Gonzales and Kelley also face charges of criminal sexual penetration of a minor.
Gonzales has a New Mexico arrest record stretching back to 2004, including a felony child abuse charge, driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. According to KRQE, Gonzales took a plea deal after an August 2014 incident during which he was accused of assaulting his former girlfriend as she was driving a car he was riding in, with the couple’s child in the backseat. Gonzales reportedly pleaded guilty in February 2015 to two misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to two years of supervised probation under the New Mexico Department of Corrections, supervision that should have included drug and alcohol treatment, counseling, random drug testing and surprise home visits from probation officers.
But Department of Corrections Officials tell the station they never received the documentation informing them that Gonzales was required to be under their supervision.
“We were not aware of this plea agreement until this morning it came to our attention, we never received the documentation to say that he had entered into this agreement,” New Mexico Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary of Administration Alex Sanchez told KRQE.
The station reports record keepers in the clerks office of the Bernalillo County Second Judicial District are required to alert corrections officials to new probation cases. The Department of Corrections has launched an investigation, but Sanchez told the station he doesn’t believe his department was responsible for the error since he says they were never notified. A spokesman for the Second Judicial District Court said in a statement obtained by KRQE Thursday they were reviewing their records to determine whether they made a mistake, and more information would be forthcoming.
Under the plea agreement, Gonzales should have been under the supervision of the probation department at the time of Victoria Martens’ murder, through February of 2017. It’s not clear, however, whether the slaying could have been prevented. Multiple state agencies are now investigating, the station reports. The New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Families said Thursday night that none of the three suspects in the case has ever been on the agency’s radar.
The brutal crime came to light in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday when police arrived at the Albuquerque apartment complex where a couple had reportedly been attacked, the woman bleeding from a head injury and the man sporting a black eye and wearing blood-stained shorts.
The woman told officers her 10-year-old daughter was still inside apartment from which they had escaped.
What the officers didn’t know was that the child was already dead.
With the fire alarm blaring, they busted in the front door and searched the smoke-filled apartment for Victoria Martens. In the bathroom, they made the gruesome discovery of the young girl’s dismembered, burning remains.
Investigators took into custody Michelle Martens, Fabian Gonzales, and Jessica Kelley.
The community was left struggling to understand how a blossoming elementary school student who loved swimming and gymnastics could have been the target of such violence.
The killing happened on the day Victoria was going to celebrate her 10th birthday.
Gonzales denied having involvement with Victoria’s death while reporters yelled questions at him as he was led out of the police station in handcuffs late Wednesday. The girl’s mother said nothing as she taken from the police station to a police cruiser and driven away.
Police said Kelley was hospitalized and will be booked after she’s released. No details were disclosed about why she was hospitalized.
Bail was set at $1 million each for Martens and Gonzales at their first court appearance Thursday afternoon. The two did not speak in court, and the public defense lawyer who represented them did not comment about the allegations.
As news spread about Victoria’s death, neighbors and friends built a makeshift memorial under a tree near the apartment complex, adorning it with stuffed animals and candles. Some hugged while others cried and prayed.
In the evening, dozens of people gathered for a candlelight vigil and the shrine grew.
Christie Zamora said Victoria attended her gymnastics class every Saturday and always seemed happy.
“She was incredibly social,” Zamora said. “It’s just so tragic.”
Another shrine was erected at Petroglyph Elementary School, where Victoria had just started the new school year.
School officials said in a statement that, like the rest of the community, their hearts ache. “Victoria is in our thoughts and prayers as we hold our children just a little tighter on this sad day,” the statement read.
Neighbors said Victoria’s mother worked at a nearby grocery store deli and they were shocked to see a mugshot of her in an orange jail jumpsuit.
Mugshots of Martens and Gonzales released by police showed them with bruises on their faces. According to the complaint, Gonzales said his cousin hit him and Martens with an iron, prompting him to jump over the balcony and run to a neighboring apartment for help. Martens also found her way outside.
Police initially went to the apartment complex early Wednesday after the neighbor reported the disturbance.
Victoria’s mother told police she met Gonzales online about a month ago and that he drugged the girl so he could calm her down and have sex with her, the complaint said.
Gonzales lengthy arrest record includes a felony child abuse charge, driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest.
Kelley’s record includes battery, domestic violence and drug charges.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that in one case, Kelley acted as a lookout while a woman allegedly raped another inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center in September 2012. Kelley pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit criminal sexual penetration and was sentenced to three years in prison minus nearly a year for time served.
Martens told police Kelley had recently got out of prison and that she allowed her to stay at the apartment.
Online court records show no criminal history in New Mexico for Martens.