ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Federal authorities announced late Sunday that they have arrested an Española man on a second-degree murder charge in the death of his ex-girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter, Renezmae Calzada.
Malcolm Torres was arrested in Pojoaque Pueblo on a federal indictment Sunday, according to FBI spokesman Frank Fisher. He offered little detail and said additional information would not be released until after Torres’ initial appearance. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, that hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Monday in Federal Court in Albuquerque.
Authorities said early on Renezmae, whose last name is spelled Caldaza in some references, was last seen alive the morning of Sept. 8. She was not reported missing until that evening when her mother called 911. Torres had reportedly been taking care of her that morning.
An Amber Alert was issued late that night and a massive search ensued.
Her body was found in the Rio Grande near Santa Clara Pueblo in Rio Arriba County on Sept. 11.
Torres, 26, was described as a possible suspect early on in the case, although authorities subsequently backed away from that statement. Nevertheless, he was taken into custody on outstanding warrants shortly after Renezmae’s disappearance was reported to law enforcement. During a hearing in Albuquerque in late September, Metropolitan Court Judge Maria Dominguez sentenced Torres to 64 days in jail for violating probation in an unrelated drunken driving case.
Online jail records show he was recently released from the Metropolitan Detention Center.
Court documents show he and Victoria Maestas, Renezmae’s mother, had been involved in a custody dispute involving the girl and another child. A hearing had been scheduled to take place on the day that Renezmae’s body was pulled from the river.
Torres had been arrested nearly a year ago after allegedly beating Maestas. She said in a court filing that Torres threatened to kill her if she ever took his son and had in the past thrown things at her and held a knife to her throat in front of their children.
Renezmae’s disappearance and death rocked Española. Close to 200 people attended her memorial service, where she was remembered as an inquisitive child who had an infectious smile and an unbreakable bond with her little brother, Nacho.
“Mae Mae found her way home,” a family member said at the service. “It may not be the way we wanted, but she’s home.”
Among the people who attended was Sgt. Chad Melvin of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Open Space Search and Rescue dive team, who helped in the search and recovery of Renezmae’s body.
“This one really affected us,” Melvin said. “We all have small kids, so this one really touched us.”