Flora Vista couple arrested, accused of child abuse
FARMINGTON — Two Flora Vista residents were arrested and charged with felony child abuse after authorities contacted by state child welfare officials removed four children from their home on Sept. 16, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
One of the children was found by doctors to suffer from severe malnutrition.
The Sheriff’s Office arrested Lindbergh Alonzo, 42, and Alexis Alonzo, 28, on Oct. 21 after warrants were issued in court. They were booked into the San Juan County Adult Detention Center the same day.
Lindbergh Alonzo was charged with 1st degree abuse of a child resulting in great bodily harm and also faces a 3rd degree felony count of tampering with evidence. His court date for a preliminary examination is Nov. 3 before Judge Trudy Reed-Chase in the San Juan County Magistrate Court in Aztec.
Alexis Alonzo was charged with 1st degree abuse of a child resulting in great bodily harm and will appear before the same judge on Nov. 3, according to a court document.
Records indicate that conditions of release were worked out and assignment of public defenders was pending on Oct. 25. No attorney of record was noted for the defendants.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said Oct. 25 that his office did not have grounds to petition that the defendants be held in the county jail until trial under current laws.
Evidence tampering alleged
“On September 16, 2022, an employee with the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) requested the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office to assist in responding to a welfare check on the children in the Alonzo household,” the Oct. 25 Sheriff's Office news release stated.
Sheriff’s Office investigators who responded along with the CYFD suspected a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old were being locked in a closet, and that the older child was malnourished, court documents stated.
“There was information alleging excessive/inappropriate discipline, close confinement, and inadequate food,” the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office said in the news release. “Upon initial contact with the family, evidence observed in the house, and then alteration of evidence while on scene, deputies believed that children were being confined in a closet for extended periods of time and were not being fed adequately. The on-duty sergeant was called, and the decision was made to remove the children from the home.”
Two younger children were removed on Sept. 16 as well as the older children.
In a later interview, the older child stated that a belt had been used by his stepmother as a means of discipline, as well as food deprivation, and that the child was locked in the closet for extended periods of time, the affidavit stated.
At the time deputies came to the house Sept. 16, the 16-year-old said his 12-year-old sibling had also been locked in the closet, and they were let out when investigators arrived, The child said the siblings lied to investigators about how they lived and were treated.
The Sheriff’s Office detailed the Sept. 16 site visit by two deputies and CYFD staff in a court document during which deputies investigated the room the older children shared.
“Prior to getting to the room, Lindbergh stated they were in the middle of renovating the room which was why it is so bare,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed Oct. 21 in the Magistrate Court Div. 1. “It was noted that the doors within the room had no doorknobs to include the closet door. It was also noted that the room contained a camera in the bedroom above the bunk bed at ceiling level, which was located in the southwest corner of the room facing northeast. Another camera was noted to be in the bedroom closet.”
During the initial contact those cameras were removed, the court document stated, while Alexis Alonzo and the children were being interviewed by investigators. "When questioned what had happened to the cameras in the room, Lindbergh said he had taken them down," the affidavit stated.
Deputies later inspected the cameras, which they were told had no SD cards for recording data and only provided a live feed.
Authorities obtained a search warrant for the home on Sept. 21 and determined the room that previously had cameras installed had been altered since their first visit and a deadbolt likely removed from the closet door, the affidavit stated.
The wireless camera that had been in the closet had been thrown away, Lindbergh Alonzo told deputies before Alexis Alonzo told him not to say anything else without a lawyer, the affidavit stated.
The affidavit also included an Oct. 3 report from a doctor at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque that recommended "Continued investigation of the care-taking environment” experienced by the 16-year-old child.
“Based on information available at this time, should (the child) be returned to environment in which (the child) has been severely maltreated, the expected outcome is physical injury of increasing severity over time, worsened emotional/mental health morbidity, and from a nutritional standpoint, the expected outcome of return is death."
The Sheriff’s Office noted that people who suspect a child is being abused or neglected may call nonemergency dispatch at 505-334-6622 or 1-855-333-SAFE to report it.