SANTA FE — The Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office dismissed several charges against a man accused of killing a boy who was kept locked in a cage nearly two years ago.
Last week, seven tampering with evidence and conspiracy to tamper with evidence charges were dropped against 21-year-old Jordan Nunez. He’s charged with killing 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia at their family home in Nambé in November 2017. None of eight child abuse charges that Nunez faces were dismissed.
District Attorney spokesman Henry Varela said in an email that the dropped counts would be merged into the five other tampering with evidence and conspiracy charges Nunez is facing.
Nunez’s father, Thomas Ferguson, was initially blamed for killing Jeremiah.
After the boy’s death, Ferguson allegedly forced Nunez and Jeremiah’s mother, Ferguson’s then-girlfriend Tracy Ann Pena, to help place the boy in a plastic storage bin and bury the body off N.M. 503 near Nambé.
But after Ferguson killed himself in the Santa Fe County jail in April 2018, Nunez was pegged as the killer. Jeremiah’s younger sister testified at a court hearing last year that it appeared that Jeremiah broke his neck after Nunez flipped over the dog cage Jeremiah had been locked in.
The three tampering with evidence charges that were dropped include allegations that Nunez moved Jeremiah’s body from the home and into a garage, moved “things” from the house and into an off-site storage facility and tried to remove blood from Jeremiah’s body, according to an indictment.
Nunez initially faced a single child-abuse count. In August, Nunez was charged with seven additional counts for allegedly torturing Jeremiah in various ways, including shocking him with an electric dog collar, hitting him with a homemade spear, hitting him in the genitals and holding him in a fireplace, dog kennel and closet.
Pena, Jeremiah’s mother, has pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse resulting in death and will serve 12 years in prison. She will be formally sentenced after Nunez’s case is adjudicated.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office learned of Jeremiah’s death in January 2018 after Pena spoke about it to another inmate while at the Santa Fe County on a different case. Nunez is scheduled to go to trial in March.