ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Synthia Varela-Casaus was allowed to sit with her son, Omaree, who had told school officials that she had hit him with a phone and a belt, before police had a chance to interview the boy, according to a police report on the incident.
The Albuquerque Police Dept. officer who investigated the claim wrote that she was surprised to find the boy sitting with his mother before the officer had a chance to interview Omaree, who subsequently changed his story.
The officer also wrote that she felt the boy was not safe in the home with his mother and that those concerns were expressed to the CYFD investigator. “However, she did not address my safety concerns, nor did she agree with them because she did not feel it necessary to place him on a 48 hour hold,” the officer wrote.
A little more than a year after the 2012 incident, Omaree Varela died after allegedly being kicked by his mother, who is now being held on a charge of child abuse resulting in death and is being held on $100,000 cash only bond.
The recently released Albuquerque police report of Oct. 20, 2012, says that the then 8-year-old third-grader at Hodgin Elementary School initially told CYFD investigator Elizabeth Du Passage, that his mother, Synthia Varela-Casaus, hit him in the face with the house telephone, causing a large, swollen bruise above his right eye. In addition, the boy showed a large bruise extending from his right hip to his upper thigh, which he said was from his mother striking him with a belt.
The APD report, written by officer Jennifer Jara, said that by the time she arrived at the school, the child was sitting with his mother.
“I made my way to the office where (the child) was waiting, with his family,” officer Jara wrote in her report. “I was shocked at this because they were sitting together and talking and this struck me as odd. In my experience with situations of this kind, I have never encountered the parents and CYFD altogether, without an officer first being able to interview each subject separately. I was advised that the mother had already been interviewed and advised of the situation, and clearly had access to the child before I was able to interview him.”
Omaree Varela then changed his story, saying his injuries happened after he fell while chasing after his younger brother outside the family home. The child told both Du Passage and Jara that “he did not want to get taken away from his mother again.”
Omaree Varela had previously spent time with a caretaker family who were told to return the child and his younger sister to the biological mother.