Sheriff's Office: Children found dead in Superior were left in car for several hours
Two children found dead in a car in Superior had been left there for several hours, according to a Pinal County Sheriff's Office report released Wednesday.
Their mother, who has been arrested in connection with their deaths, claims she called police right after discovering their bodies, the report says.
The report says responding officers found the children Monday night strapped in their car seats, cold and in a state of "rigor mortis," after being dead for several hours.
Brittany Velasquez, 20, of Superior, told sheriff's deputies she dropped off her 2-year-old son and 9-month-old daughter with a babysitter at 9:30 a.m. and found them dead at 11 p.m. Monday, the report says.
Valasquez initially called the Superior Police Department after finding her children, the report says. Superior police later handed the investigation over to the Sheriff's Office.
Brittany Velasquez has her initial appearance at Pinal County Superior Court in Florence on March 27, 2018.
Valasquez told sheriff's investigators she had dropped the children off with a babysitter, whose name is redacted from the report. After she returned from work that night, she said she found her children in the car. She told deputies that the babysitter may have returned that night and left the dead children in the car, the report says.
But deputies didn't believe she ever left the children with the babysitter after they interviewed that person, the report says.
"It was apparent that Brittany (Velasquez) was attempting to place the blame onto somebody else for this incident," the sheriff's report says.
The report also says, "It is known that the kids spent several hours in the vehicle as there was condensation on the inside windows of the vehicle and the children were cold to the touch and rigor mortis had already set in."
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office has said when Velasquez first called police she said her son and daughter were found in a vehicle with "blood coming from their mouths," according to the report.
Tempe resident Jordan Romero speaks outside the home in Superior where his 2-year-old nephew and 10-month-old niece were found dead on March 26, 2018. azcentral.com
In the interview with deputies, Valasquez suggested it was the babysitter's fault her children were dead, the report says.
Police interviewed that person, who told police she never made any arrangements for Velasquez to drop off her children.
"There was no proof that Brittany (Velasquez) actually dropped the children off," the report says.
Deputies also interviewed Velasquez's grandmother, who told them she saw her granddaughter put the children in Velasquez's own vehicle that morning, the report says.
The Sheriff's Office booked Velasquez into the Pinal County jail on two charges of first-degree murder.
The statement doesn't provide any motives for the killings or indicate how the children died. A medical examiner will conduct autopsies on the children, whose names were not released, to determine their causes of death, the Sheriff's Office said.
The results of the autopsies won't be publicly available for at least a few months, said Navideh Forghani, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman. The vehicle in which the children died has been impounded as evidence.
Arizona’s child-welfare agency says to call the child-abuse hotline if you reasonably believe that a child has been “abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned.”
The deaths and subsequent arrest rattled the historic mining town 65 miles east of Phoenix and ended a months-long string of police visits and child-welfare checks involving Velasquez and her children, according to police records and officials.
Officers had been called to the Velasquez home seven or eight times in recent years, Superior police said Tuesday.
One of the more recent calls resulted in a report to the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
A family member called 911 at 10 p.m. Jan. 1 alleging that Velasquez had stolen a fur coat from her worth $3,500, Superior Police Department records show. As an officer investigated the alleged theft, the woman also complained that Velasquez often left the house for days at a time without taking her children, the report said. The family member said she was having difficulties taking care of the children in Velasquez's absence.
A previous report also raised concerns about whether the person was able to care for Valasquez's children, police said.
DCS confirmed it looked into the reports previously.
Darren DaRonco, a DCS spokesman, said in a statement Tuesday: "There was no evidence that the mother was abusing or neglecting her children. While there were concerns raised regarding Ms. Velasquez’s previous mental health, no evidence was presented by anyone that indicated mental health issues were impeding Ms. Velasquez’s ability to parent.”
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