SANTA FE, N.M. — Authorities say a 13-year-old boy whose body was found buried in a remote area of northern New Mexico had endured years of abuse that included being locked for hours at a time inside a dog kennel and being fed there.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Robert Garcia choked back tears Tuesday as he provided more details about a case that state and local authorities described as gruesome and heartbreaking.
Garcia told reporters that the child, identified as Jeremiah Valencia, suffered at “the hands of a monster.”
Investigators built a case over the weekend and on Monday announced the arrests of 42-year-old Thomas Wayne Ferguson, 35-year-old Tracy Ann Pena and 19-year-old Jordan Anthony Nunez in connection with Valencia’s death more than two months ago.
Authorities say Pena, the boy’s mother, is cooperating and the investigation is ongoing.
The boy was not enrolled in a school, the officials said, so there was no report he’d been missing since he died. The defendants say he died Nov. 26. Nunez says he witnessed Ferguson beating the boy and causing him to bleed on that day.
Pena said she found her son dead on a bed and wrapped in a blanked that day after she returned to the family’s home near Nambé in northern Santa Fe County after getting out a jail.
Ferguson claimed Jeremiah was injured in “aggressive play” between the boy and Nunez.
A body believed to be that of the slain teen was found buried off N.M. 503 near the family home.