A mother, father and grandmother in Arizona have been charged with both child abuse and murder after admitting that their 6-year-old who died had been kept in a closet with his brother as punishment for stealing food.
23-year-old Anthony Jose Archibeque-Martinez, 26-year-old Elizabeth Archibeque-Martinez, and 50-year-old Ann Marie Martinez are all being held at the the Coconino County Jail on one count of first-degree felony homicide and two counts each of child abuse. According to a statement from the Flagstaff Police Department, officers responded to a call on Monday about an unresponsive child at a home in Flagstaff. When police arrived, they tried to save the 6-year-old, but he ended up being pronounced dead at the scene.
The mother, father and grandmother admitted when being interviewed that the 6-year-old and his 7-year-old brother had been kept in a closet most of the time and were never let outside of the home. The parents also told police that this had been going on for about a month, and admitted that the two boys were denied food and “kept in the closet because they were stealing food, by sneaking out at night when the parents slept.”
According to police, both children were malnourished and neither appeared to be his age. The 7-year-old was hospitalized at Flagstaff Medical Center and is now in the custody of the Department of Child Safety.
There were also two other children found in the home: a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old. Both of them were also in the custody of the Department of Child Safety. Police said these two were not malnourished and the 4-year-old regularly attended school.
The Department of Child Safety had never been to the Archibeque-Martinez home to investigate before. Now, police are interviewing family members and neighbors to determine if anyone knew about this abuse beforehand to get insight into how long this was going on. Because the community is so small, police say it would be unusual for something so extreme to be going on without anyone knowing.