Community reeling from year of losing so many children - Albuquerque Journal

Community reeling from year of losing so many children

When Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden held a news conference Tuesday to announce that three small children were dead, many asked the same question:


An alarming number of children have been killed in Albuquerque recently, many of them in violent, high-profile crimes that have left the community reeling. And Monday’s horrific shooting, which happened in the heart of one of Albuquerque’s more established and well-known neighborhoods, was perhaps even more shocking due to the number of victims.

A 5-year-old boy, 6-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy – all siblings – are dead. Their mom was left in critical condition herself.

Mayor Richard Berry said in the news conference that too many children in Albuquerque have died from violence in recent years.

“There is no way you can fill the tearing away of the soul of the community when a child is lost in a senseless act of violence,” Berry said. “You can do everything you can to make it better moving forward, but you can never replace the loss of a child.”

Other young victims of adults’ alleged criminal acts include:

Lilly Garcia, 4

Lilly Garcia
Lilly Garcia

Lilly was shot and killed on busy Interstate 40 in October 2015 during a road rage incident between her dad and another man. Lilly’s dad, Alan Garcia, was driving her and her brother home from school when the suspect, Tony Torrez, got in an altercation with Garcia and the men “exchanged words.” Torrez then opened fire on Garcia’s truck.

Lilly, who was sitting in her car seat, was struck by one of those bullets and died at a local hospital.

Torrez was arrested and charged with murder. He took a plea deal last week for a lesser second-degree murder charge and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Jayden Dayea, 1

Jayden Dayea
Jayden Dayea

Police responding to a call on Feb. 29, 2016, found 1-year-old Jayden covered in bruises with blood in his mouth. They couldn’t save him, and he died at the scene.

Jayden had been with his mom’s boyfriend, Jorge Ortega, that day. It’s unclear what exactly happened because police said at the time Ortega was too drunk to be interviewed, but he had blood on his chest.

He was charged with child abuse resulting in death and criminal sexual contact. His trial is scheduled for May 2017, according to online court records.

Victoria Martens, 10

Victoria Martens
Victoria Martens

The killing of 10-year-old Victoria Martens was one of the city’s most shocking crimes ever. She was stabbed, dismembered and set on fire before officers found her body early in the morning of Aug. 24. Victoria had a 10th birthday party planned for that day.

Her own mother is among those charged. Michelle Martens, Fabian Gonzales and Jessica Kelley have all been charged with murder, rape and other crimes.

Victoria’s death prompted calls across the state for justice, and some used it to suggest reinstating the death penalty in New Mexico.

Nhi Nguyen, 11

Nhi Nguyen
Nhi Nguyen

Nhi had just started school in Albuquerque after moving from Vietnam with her mother and was soaking up every minute. But her mother’s abusive relationship ended all that when the mom’s husband, Trinh Tran Van, shot and killed the girl and her mother, Cam Thi To.

He then turned the gun on himself. The bodies of all three were found on Aug. 28.

To had been working at a nail salon to support the family and send money back to family members in Vietnam.

Police said there was a history of abuse between her and Van, and he had an open case for allegedly battering her. A family friend said the couple had agreed to split up only a few days before the shooting.

Carmen Esmeralda Rivera Nevarez, 10

Carmen Esmeralda Rivera Nevarez
Carmen Esmeralda Rivera Nevarez

Carmen was in her family’s SUV just after midnight the morning of Nov. 13 when another vehicle slammed into them. The girl was ejected on I-25 and died at the scene.

Police say the driver of the other vehicle was Xavier Nelson, now 23, who was racing another car down the interstate at speeds up to 110 mph before he crashed into Carmen’s family’s SUV.

Officers found the prescription sedative Alprazolam in his pocket, and he’s been charged with vehicular homicide.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop


Avangrid and NY firm swap allegations in separate lawsuits
ABQnews Seeker
Connecticut-based energy company Avangrid and New ... Connecticut-based energy company Avangrid and New York-based Security Limits Inc. have each filed se ...
State accepting more types of cannabis license applications
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico's Cannabis Control Division announced ... New Mexico's Cannabis Control Division announced Tuesday that it is now accepting license applications for all cannabis-business types, including manufacturing and retail.
NM lawmakers weigh $462 million plan to spend federal ...
ABQnews Seeker
In their second try at spending ... In their second try at spending New Mexico's latest round of federal stimulus dollars, New Mexico lawmakers have crafted a $462.5 million spending plan ...
NM reports 969 new cases, 11 deaths
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico reported 969 new COVID-19 ... New Mexico reported 969 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday — an improvement from recent days — and 11 additional deaths. The state did see ...
Four critically injured in foothills-area crash
ABQnews Seeker
A two-vehicle crash left six people ... A two-vehicle crash left six people injured, four of them critically, Tuesday afternoon in Northeast Albuquerque. Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque police spokesman, said the ...
City continues Luminaria Tour; tickets on sale Dec. 11
ABQnews Seeker
A long-standing tradition continues. The Luminaria ... A long-standing tradition continues. The Luminaria Tour is returning after a hiatus during 2020. The annual tour was started in 1955 by the Albuquerque ...
City Council denies $110 million facilities plan
ABQnews Seeker
New bonds included in package would ... New bonds included in package would have taken 19 years to pay off
Pryor's buzzer beater in OT gives NMSU heated win ...
ABQnews Seeker
Nate Pryor's overtime buzzer beater gave ... Nate Pryor's overtime buzzer beater gave NSMU a win over rival UNM in front of 13,019 fans in the Pit before emphatically celebrating on ...
Emptying the Notebook: Aggie/Lobo rivalry is heated again
ABQnews Seeker
Here are some extra notes, quotes, ... Here are some extra notes, quotes, stats, video and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Monday's overtime thriller between ...