Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Victoria Maestas of Española had filed a court petition requesting that she be “allowed to see my children” about a month before her daughter Renezmae Caldaza was reported missing on Sunday, court records show.
Maestas’s petition asks that custody of Renezmae and another child be shared 50-50 with Malcolm Torres, who has been a boyfriend of Maestas and was taken into custody a few hours after Renezmae’s disappearance was reported to law enforcement authorities.
On Wednesday, after a three-day search by both civilian volunteers and numerous law enforcement agencies, Renezmae’s body was found in the Rio Grande in the Española area.
The case has shocked and saddened the Española community. About 500 people attended a candlelight vigil in the girl’s memory on the city’s plaza Wednesday night.
Law enforcement officials continue to say they don’t have a suspect in the case, although Torres remains incarcerated in the Rio Arriba County jail in Tierra Amarilla. The FBI has taken over the investigation.
Torres is being held on warrants for failure to comply with requirements of his sentencing after a DWI conviction in Albuquerque. He is scheduled to appear in Bernalillo Metropolitan Court on Sept. 25 for a conditions of release hearing.
Maestas’s Aug. 7 filing in state District Court doesn’t make clear what custody arrangement, if any, existed between her and Torres at the time.
Maestas asked in the filing, “To let me see my children until something is decided. I would like to have them 50% of the time or can have full custody until then.”
Court records show that there was supposed to be a Family Court Services hearing on the matter Wednesday, the day Renezmae’s body was found in the Rio Grande.
The other child cited in the petition is 1-year-old Ignacio, who does not have the same last name as Torres. The petition says that Torres has acknowledged parentage of both children with the state Department of Vital Statistics, although police have said that Renezmae’s biological father lives in southern New Mexico.
Last Halloween, Torres was arrested after he allegedly beat Maestas after accusing her of cheating on him. A State Police officer found Torres walking with the baby boy as the officer was responding to the domestic violence call.
According to a criminal complaint, Torres, who was reportedly drunk, told the officer, “They are not taking my son from me.”
Torres faced charges in that case, but they were dropped in January.
The Rio Grande Sun, Española’s weekly newspaper, has reported that kindergartner Renezmae had not been at school for about a week before she vanished. Dispatch center logs show that Maestas called 911 at 7:39 p.m. Sunday to report that Torres had called her to say Renezmae had been missing since 9:30 a.m. that day. “Father hasn’t reported the child missing and thought the (mother’s) family picked her up,” the dispatch log said, according to the Sun’s report.
On Thursday, spokesman Sean Sullivan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque said the FBI has taken over the investigation because whatever took place with Renezmae possibly happened on Santa Clara Pueblo, which abuts Española. The FBI has jurisdiction on Indian land. Sullivan also confirmed reports that Renezmae’s remains were found in the Rio Grande.
Sullivan declined to confirm or deny whether there are any suspects.