13-year-old boy forced to live in a dog kennel before being beaten to death by mother’s boyfriend
A teenage boy who was found buried in a grave on the side of the road near his New Mexico home spent his final days living in a dog kennel without food, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
The body of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia was discovered on Sunday, buried along New Mexico State Road 503 near Nambe, two months after he was allegedly beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend, Thomas Ferguson, reports the Daily Mail.
Ferguson, 42; the boy’s mother Tracy Pena, 35; and Ferguson’s 19-year-old son Jordan Nunez were arrested on Monday and charged with abuse of a child resulting in death, tampering with evidence, and conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence. They are currently being held without bond, the report says.
The details are so sad and gruesome, it brought the Santa Fe County sheriff to tears as he described the horrendous abuse Jeremiah endured up until his death in November. “I can honestly say that this poor child suffered at the hands of a monster,” Sheriff Robert Garcia said. Garcia told reporters the boy was brutally beaten before he was taken and buried on the side of the road, reports WSPA News.
According to the Daily Mail report, Valencia had allegedly been tortured for years by Ferguson. At the time of the abuse, the teen had been living at a home in Nambe, just north of Santa Fe, with Ferguson, Pena and Nunez. Valencia’s 13-year-old sister was also believed to have been staying at the home.
The district attorney said Valencia was not enrolled in school. Investigators said he was beaten so severely that he had to use a cane to help him walk. The child was also allegedly forced to live in a dog kennel.
“He was placed in a dog kennel for hours on end without food. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, these acts are senseless,” said District Attorney Marco Serna.
— Morgan Aguilar (@MorganAguilar) February 1, 2018
Jeremiah went missing in mid-November, but his disappearance was not reported to authorities until last Thursday when an inmate contacted them about a possible homicide.
According to WSPA, the boy’s mother, Tracy Ann Pena, 35, was in jail for an unrelated case when, according to court documents, she told another inmate her son was murdered back in November. Last week, that inmate made Santa Fe County deputies aware of the information Pena had shared. It prompted them to begin looking into the teen’s whereabouts.
The search ended over the weekend when deputies discovered the body a few miles from the home he was living in. Investigators said they used a cadaver dog to help locate the teen, whose body had been discarded in a plastic storage bin, according to Las Cruces Sun-News. The body is now at the Office of the Medical Investigator to determine the exact cause of death.
Nunez told investigators around Thanksgiving he saw his father hit the 13-year-old and then take him out back. Police say the trio then buried the body. Jeremiah’s sister told deputies the couple told her to lie and say her brother was staying with family. Investigators say it doesn’t appear that his 13-year-old sister was abused.
Ferguson — the boy’s mother’s boyfriend — has a long criminal past. In 2014, Ferguson was charged with rape, kidnapping, and domestic violence involving another woman. He pleaded guilty in the case and the rape charge was dropped. He did 16 months for the crime. The DA says not only will they request that all three suspects remain behind bars until trial, but they say more charges could be filed as evidence is collected.