Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – A man accused of killing a boy when he was locked in a dog kennel has now been indicted on more child abuse counts against the victim.
In a new grand jury indictment, Jordan Nunez, 21, is charged with seven additional counts of child abuse against 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia, whose body was found buried in a plastic storage container off N.M. 503 near Nambé in January 2018.
Nunez is accused of killing Jeremiah in November 2017 by flipping over a dog kennel the boy was locked in. Caging Jeremiah was just one of many ways police and prosecutors say he was tortured and abused before he died.
The indictment filed in state District Court alleges that Nunez forcefully struck Jeremiah in the genitals, “caused” him to consume methamphetamine, held him in a fireplace and locked him in a closet.
The new charges also include allegations that Nunez struck Jeremiah with a spear, used a shock collar on him and placed him in the dog cage.
Nunez’s father, Thomas Ferguson – boyfriend of Jeremiah’s mother – was originally pegged as the killer. But after Ferguson killed himself in the Santa Fe County jail in April 2018, prosecutors said Nunez dealt the killing blow.
Jeremiah’s mother and Ferguson’s girlfriend, Tracy Pena, has agreed to a plea deal in her son’s torture and abuse that calls for her to serve 12 years in prison and testify against Nunez at trial.
“The new charges are the result of investigation before and after Tracy Pena’s plea agreement,” Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office spokesman Henry Varela said in an email.
“The new charges stem from information obtained from witnesses, including Tracy Pena. Each count is corroborated by a witness other than Tracy Pena and/or the forensic evidence.”
Nunez’s attorney, Mark Earnest, could not be reached Friday.
According to previous court documents, Jeremiah was subjected to ongoing torture and abuse by Ferguson and Nunez at the family group’s Nambé house. That included having his hand smashed with a five-pound hammer, being poked with a homemade spear and being shocked with an electric dog collar.
Jeremiah was apparently beaten so badly that he had to use a cane to walk.
The boy is said to have been forced to wear a diaper while caged in the dog kennel and was deprived of food and water for long periods of time.
Jeremiah’s younger sister said at a court hearing that Ferguson forced her to poke Jeremiah with a homemade spear. The girl also said that on Nov. 26, 2017, she saw Jeremiah die when Nunez flipped over the dog kennel when Jeremiah was locked inside.
She said it happened just before Nunez and Ferguson were about to pick up Pena at the Santa Fe County jail, where she was being held on an arrest warrant not related to Jeremiah’s abuse.
Documents say Pena returned home and found Jeremiah lifeless in his room.
Ferguson then reportedly forced Pena and Nunez to put the body in a storage bin and help him bury it.
Jeremiah’s disappearance went unnoticed by authorities. He and his sister were not enrolled in school.
Both Ferguson and Pena were arrested in January and booked into the Santa Fe County jail in unrelated cases. It was at the jail that Pena told another inmate about the murder. The woman then told her sister, who then told police.
Pena helped Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies locate the body. An autopsy on Jeremiah, who was found buried in a diaper, determined the boy died of blunt force trauma. He also had methamphetamine in his system.
Nunez is scheduled to go to trial in November.