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Column: Young boy was another victim in bizarre murder

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s been more than 21 years since the bizarre murder of Girly Chew Hossencofft began to unfold like a sensationalist, unbelievable science fiction novel.

I was there from the start, writing the wacky reality of it all – the warring alien queens, reptilian humanoids, a ninja sword hidden in a garage ceiling, government conspiracies and the conning of otherwise intelligent women who inexplicably fell under the spell of a mousy, maniacal mastermind who took on outlandish personas and changed his name from the average Armando Chavez to the aggrandized Diazien Hossencofft.

Beyond the ridiculousness was the tragic story of a young woman who fell victim to estranged husband Hossencofft’s madness, who predicted her own death at his hands and did everything she could to prevent it until Sept. 9, 1999, when she disappeared and was presumed dead.

To this day, her body has not been found.

To this day, one question has always haunted me:

What happened to Demetri?

The little boy formerly known as Demetri Hossencofft was 3 when he went to live with his adoptive family in Alaska in 1999, weeks after his birth father, Diazien Hossencofft, was charged with murder. (Courtesy of Melinda Miles-Lindberg)

He was the little boy Hossencofft claimed was created in a test tube in 1996 and the reason he gave for killing Chew, who had loved Demetri like a son and fought for custody.

In 2002, Hossencofft testified at the murder trial of co-defendant and girlfriend Linda Henning. “So they make the choice – they took my son from me,” Hossencofft said, referring to Chew and her divorce attorney. “And I make the choice to take her life. It’s as simple as that.”

Even before Chew’s death, Hossencofft had spitefully put the boy up for adoption in early 1999. The first adoption was disrupted within weeks, but a second one had stuck.

That was the last I had heard about Demetri.

Until now.

Melinda Miles-Lindberg hadn’t known how notorious Demetri’s father was, hadn’t been aware of the high-profile murder case making headlines just weeks before she arrived in Albuquerque from Alaska in October 1999 to adopt Demitri.

“I didn’t get then how much of a monster Diazien was,” she said from her home in Panama, a world away from the frozen land where she raised Demetri and her two other adopted children. “Even if I had known, I thought I would be good parent enough to deal with whatever issues arose.”

But sometimes the good parent cannot overcome every issue an adopted child has – and the past Demetri was saddled with was daunting.

Miles-Lindberg has written about her heartbreaking experience in her brutally honest book, “Mommy No. 13: A Child of a Murderer and His Adoptive Mother.”

The title reflects the dozen women who tried to mother Demetri in his first three years, including Chew. Miles-Lindberg, 13th in line, promised him that she would be the last.

But repeatedly being ripped from one caregiver to the next and treated like a science experiment by his father had taken a toll. Chew had been Hossencofft’s victim, but so had Demetri.

His name was changed at adoption, but I’ll let you read that for yourselves in the book.

Miles-Lindberg said her son, rambunctious and bright, showed little affection, connection or trust for others, including her.

Hugging him, she said, was like hugging a board.

“He was always a joy,” she said. “He was just so shut down.”

Diazien Hossencofft

The book details Miles-Lindberg’s years of trying to break through her son’s walls and learning to forgive and find herself. She, like many well-meaning adoptive parents, had to accept that sometimes the walls don’t fall, that the blame for those walls is not hers but the pain is.

“Writing the book for me is how I heal,” she said.

He was 14 when he asked about his birth dad. Miles-Lindberg told him what little she knew.

Three years later, they both learned much more about Hossencofft by reading “September Sacrifice,” a book about Chew’s murder written by former KOB-TV reporter Mark Horner.

Both times, her son hadn’t reacted in a horrified or hurt way, she said. He didn’t remember Chew, the other mommies or the abuse.

“His only memory was of Diazien feeding him in a high chair and then leaving him in the high chair,” she said.

Her son detached himself from her and the family in 2015 when he was 18. He is 23 now, still estranged.

Each birthday, she sends him a text message and wishes him well.

He has never responded.

Earlier this year, she found him on Facebook and sent a message to let him know about the book. He didn’t like it, she said.

“He found it ‘syrupy,’ ” she said. “That’s the word he used.”

It was a negative response, but it was a response nevertheless, and she was elated.

Nearly six years have passed since she has seen her son. She still believes one day they will see each other again. On his Facebook page, which she is now blocked from, he appears happy, with a decent job and a relationship.

“He is OK,” she said. “I want the women who took care of him, who tried to save him early on, to know that. He is OK.”

UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Reach Joline at 730-2793, jkrueger@abqjournal.com, Facebook or @jolinegkg on Twitter.

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