ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Update: This story has been modified to include an updated damage estimate from Albuquerque Public Schools.
Two of the three teenage girls suspected of wreaking havoc in several classrooms at Wilson Middle School last month, causing an estimated $55,000 in damage, were booked into the Juvenile Detention Center on Wednesday.
On Dec. 22, the vandals spattered paint around classrooms, overflowed sinks with running water and destroyed five Promethean interactive whiteboards costing about $5,000 each, according to Albuquerque Public Schools police.
Police also say the girls stole three Apple computers, possibly laptops, and destroyed years’ worth of classroom work. One of the girls told police they sold the stolen computers for $300 each.
Mirella Winstead, 13, and Lisa Chavez, 15, are charged with burglary, criminal damage to property and conspiracy in Children’s Court.
Police earlier released a security video showing three girls walking outside the school on San Pedro north of Gibson around the time of the vandalism, and a break in the case came Monday when a tipster pointed to Winstead as one of the culprits in the video, according to a statement of probable cause filed in Children’s Court.
Officers interviewed her along with her father the next day.
Winstead, an eighth-grader at Wilson, told police she and Chavez and a third girl, broke into the building through a door on the roof, according to the statement. Authorities blacked out the third girl’s name on the documents.
Winstead told police the trio spattered paint around the building, stole the computers and took $35 out of a purse.
Detectives found Chavez at Los Puentes Charter School. Chavez told officers that after the group vandalized the building, they sold the computers, according to the statement.
Chavez’s father, Kalsey Chavez, said he was shocked and hurt when he learned what his daughter was accused of. He said his daughter, a sophomore at Los Puentes, has never done anything like this before.
“When I spoke with her, I looked her in the eyes and said, you need to tell the truth,” Kalsey Chavez said. “She did.”
Police are still looking for the third suspect. It is unclear whether she is a student at Wilson.
Ann Piper, the principal at Wilson Middle School, said that she will be pleased to see justice done, but that the ordeal was upsetting. She said a student who causes such expensive damage could be expelled.
“It was a very disruptive and expensive act of vandalism,” Piper said. “APS (maintenance and operation), along with a contractor, was able to get all the rooms ready and to get everything together again” for Tuesday, when school came back in session.
She said when teachers spoke to students about the incident, they emphasized the way the community came together to donate to the school. She said the school has raised $10,000 through a GoFundMe account and individual donations.
“I had a grandmother from California donate, and kids who went here who are now in New York,” Piper said. “It’s really heartwarming to see the people step up.”