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 Autopsy: "starvation and neglect" led to Barreras death
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5 months ago

Autopsy: "starvation and neglect" led to Barreras death

TUCSON - Three months after his skeletal remains were found in a Fisher Price toy chest; Kristi's Kids got the autopsy report, Tuesday, on little Roman Barreras.

In it, the Medical Examiner says by all indications the cause of death was, likely, starvation and neglect. Some bones were actually missing. Other bones were in the process of healing and there were signs of possible infection.

A medical expert tells Kristi's Kids it is clear Roman suffered a lot when he was alive.

The report says, his body was the length of a 1-and-a-half to 2-year old child but if, in fact, he was starved to death that would stunt his growth. That means the time of death could not be determined.

Roman's body was found in the toy chest in the backyard of the southside home his parents were renting, back in March.

A Grand Jury has indicted the parents, Raquel and Martin Barreras, on 1st Degree Murder and Child Abuse charges.

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8 months ago

Parents accused of killing son appear in court

TUCSON - The parents accused of killing their 3-year-old son appeared in Pima County Superior Court for their arraignment Tuesday.

An initial not guilty plea was entered on the couple's behalf by the judge.

Raquel and Martin Barreras were charged earlier in March on murder charges after the remains of their boy, Roman, were found in a home the family was evicted from.

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8 months ago

Parents of Roman Barreras indicted on murder charges

TUCSON - The mother and father of Roman Barreras were formally indicted on child abuse and murder charges Monday.

The boy's father, Martin Barreras, has been charged along with his wife of first-degree murder of the 3-year-old boy. Originally only Racquel faced murder charges.

  • Read the indictment

Both Barreras face one count each of child abuse and concealment of a dead body, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Racquel and Martin "committed child abuse under circumstances likely to produce death" between April 2013 and January 2014.

Roman Barreras' bones were found in a box at a rental home March 4. Tucson Police later arrested Martin and Racquel.

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8 months ago

Community mourns 3-year-old Roman Barreras, neighbors recall details

TUCSON - A community mourns the horrific murder of a 3-year-old boy on the south side as neighbors recall details of his immediate family.

Raquel Barreras, 39, and Martin Barreras, 45, were Roman Barreras' parents. His mother was charged with murder after allegedly starving him to death while his father is charged with child abuse.

Roman's skeletal remains were found near in a toy box outside of a south side home earlier this week. Roman was one of five children and extended family said Roman was hardly seen - and until now, their next-door neighbors never knew he existed.

News 4 Tucson spoke to one of the kids who played with the Barreras children regularly. His grandmother asked to conceal her and her grandson's identity.

The 6-year-old child said he never saw Roman nor heard of anyone in the family speak of him. He vividly remembers the toy box, where Roman's remains were eventually found.

"I had never opened it because there was like ants and bees and when my friend opened it carefully and just got her toys carefully because there were a lot of ants and all that," he told News 4 Tucson.

His grandmother, who lives steps away from where Roman's skeletal remains were found, is skeptical.

"It seems to me that when they moved in, that he wasn't alive... I don't know because we never saw him," she said.

Days after Roman was discovered, a heart-broken community pays their respects at a make-shift memorial scattered with toys, flowers and food.

"It's kind of sad that the people are leaving food and drinks because he starved to death," said Star Luna, a concerned mother. "I just hope everything... that we don't hear stories like this again in Tucson because it's horrible. I just hope that everything works out for the kids that did live."

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8 months ago

Roman was not one of the 6,500 'not investigated' cases

TUCSON - Kristi's Kids has just learned, 3-year-old Roman Barreras WAS NOT one of the 6,500 cases mishandled by the CPS hotline.

Back in November, it was revealed that thousands of calls to Arizona's child abuse and neglect hotline slipped through the cracks. The calls were labeled "non-investigative" when they should have been assigned to a CPS worker.

In a document released today, by the state, there were four calls placed to the hotline regarding Roman and the Barreras family. The first call was made right after Roman was born, in July of 2010. The last call was placed this past January. The January 2014 call to the hotline, from someone worried about Roman's whereabouts, was labeled a "communication." No "report" was made. The state says, that call was classified wrong by the hotline.

Kristi's Kids has just learned, from State Representative Victoria Steele, that Roman Barreras was NOT one of the 6,500 cases mishandled by the hotline. Steele spoke, tonight, with Charles Flanagan. He's the Director of the newly-formed "Division of Child Safety and Family Services." According to Steele, Flanagan said that the state knows every person/child in that group of 6,500 and that Roman and his siblings are not among them.

For a look at the state report, just issued today, on Roman Barreras, click here.

8 months ago

Rep. Steele outraged over child's death

TUCSON-A Tucson couple remains behind bars for the murder of their young son. The investigation continues today in what appears to be the starvation death of 3-year old Roman Barreras.


His skeletal remains were found Tuesday inside a toy chest in a yard on the Southside . Now a memorial growing in front of that home.


District 9 State Representative Victoria Steele is one of many outraged over the death of the little boy.


Just yesterday while she was on the House floor and they were discussing Child Abuse Prevention Month. She stood up and mentioned little Romans death. " We have a very serious problem with protecting our children. This has got to be a higher priority ."

Today here in Tucson she spoke to News 4 about her reaction to learning of the boys tragic ending to his life. "This child is dead, this is awful, this is horrendous. We should not be living in a world where we are spending more time in the State Legislature worrying about how much money we are going to spend on a Super Bowl game than we are putting together the funding for the new child welfare agency."

State representative Steele says she is committed to protecting our children. So that what happened to little Roman doesn't happen again.

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8 months ago

Roman and CPS: Who knew what, and when?

Who knew what, and when?

These are the questions that Kristi's Kids have been asking since we first learned of the heartbreaking case of little Roman Barreras.

According to the newly-formed Division of Child Safety and Family Services, there were numerous calls to the CPS hotline for Roman and his family.

Perhaps the most disturbing occurred on January 10th of this year. It was call to the CPS hotline. That's the very hotline that has been the source of so much recent controversy surrounding the way the state has handled cases of child abuse and neglect.

During the call, an anonymous source said Roman hadn't been seen for possibly up to one year. The caller also said Roman didn't attend the last Halloween party. At that time, the exact address for the family was unknown.

That call was classified not as a ‘report' but rather, as a ‘communication.' Authorities now say this classification was inaccurate.

We also know Roman has been under the child welfare radar since he was born. A report was made the day after his birth in July, 2010.

Reports were also made in October and November, 2012.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators are continuing to sift through these just-released details, and we'll have much more on this tonight on News 4 Tucson at 10pm.

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8 months ago

Memorial grows for child abuse victim

TUCSON - A memorial is growing outside a southside home where the remains of a child were found earlier this week.

From family members to strangers, many have stopped by leaving balloons and other items outside the fence of the home on Idaho Street.

Among the items were food and water - two things police say 3-year-old Roman Barreras was denied. His mother, Raquel, is accused of starving him to death before placing his remains in a toy chest.

Raquel and Martin Barreras currently remain in Pima County Jail on child abuse charges. Raquel is also charged with First-Degree murder.

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8 months ago

Roman Barreras taken by CPS the week of his birth

TUCSON - The News 4 Tucson Investigators obtained numerous court documents pertaining to the birth of Roman Barreras, to gain insight into the three-year-old boy's murder.

Among the documents, we found that Roman was taken from his mother, Raquel Barreras, right after his birth in July 2010. According to the document, CPS took the baby because Raquel tested positive for methadone. But she denied any use of Oxycodone while she was pregnant with Roman.

Family members tell the News 4 Tucson Investigators that all of the kids were taken into CPS custody during that time. The older children were sent to live with relatives. It's unclear when Raquel regained custody of Roman and her other kids.

Back in 2010, Raquel was placed on probation for two years, related to a charge that she obtained narcotics through fraudulent means.

Prior to that, Barreras was arrested in the spring of 2009 when she admitting to stealing a doctor's prescription pad and trying to get Oxycodone. She told the court she had an addiction to Oxycodone and needed treatment.

The documents say Barreras also had ten prior misdemeanor convictions, mostly for driving while her license was suspended. It was during that time that she was unemployed, and her children were in CPS custody.

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8 months ago

Family members said parents were secretive and moved often

TUCSON - Family members of the 3-year-old boy whose remains were found in a toy chest are shocked and surprised.

The boy's mother Raquel Barrera has been charged with the boy's murder. The boy's father, Martin Barrera, is charged with child abuse.

The family gathered at a news conference organized by Homicide Survivors Thursday. Ramon's grandmother sat quietly and wiped away tears as family members from both sides tried to make sense of the boy's death.

"Roman was a beautiful baby boy, he had a lot to live for. We're asking you to pray for him while we are trying to get through this just remember him as a beautiful baby boy," Raquel Barrera's niece, Erica Ortiz said.

"The Barreras are in shock," Martin Barrera's cousin, Oscar Romero said. "To find out one of their own has been taken from us especially a child the worst nightmare. I don't know what caused this some of us are asking the question and we want to know and find out the truth."

The family says Raquel and Martin became very secretive and moved often. They even called CPS, they said.

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8 months ago

TUSD, TPD and CPS called out to Barreras home prior to discovery

TUCSON - Officials from CPS, TUSD and TPD were alerted to potential issues with Raquel and Martin Barreras before the discovery of their 3-year-old son's remains March 4.

In a news conference March 5, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor said officers had been called out on a welfare check at least once before Roman's remains were found. School officials had requested the check because the Barreras children were not showing up to school.

TUSD spokeswoman Cara Rene said staff at Van Buskirk Elementary "grew concerned about a pattern of unexplained absences of a student" and filed two reports with CPS and called police. That student, a member of the Barreras family, never returned to school.

Three of Raquel and Martin's children were registered in TUSD schools in the spring of 2013 but only one attended.

CPS spokeswoman Jennifer Bowser-Richards confirmed in an email sent to News 4 Tucson that there was involvement by the agency.

"We can confirm that there was prior CPS involvement and that the last involvement we know of at this point was in August, 2012. However, it will take at least another day of research in our unwieldy CHILDS system to ascertain all of the facts," she said in the email.

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8 months ago

Father of murdered boy says mom starved him

TUCSON - Details surrounding the discovery of 3-year-old Roman Barrera's remains are surfacing from court documents.

In an interim complaint filed by Tucson Police, Roman's father, Martin Barrera, told detectives that his wife starved the boy to death and put the body in the toy chest. Martin said he confronted Raquel about it but did nothing further to stop it, the complaint details.

In the complaint, Raquel's daughter told police her mother starved the boy to death as well. "Raquel's oldest daughter stated Raquel was responsible although did not state how," the complaint said.

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8 months ago

Landlord talks about finding 3-year-old's remains in toy trunk

TUCSON - The owners of the property where the remains of a child were found Tuesday say while picking up after their evicted tenants, they almost threw the toy chest away.

They say the Barreras family lived in the triplex unit, less than a year. They also say they had no idea seven people were living in the two bedroom unit. They were under the impression two adults and two kids were living there.

After not paying rent and countless warnings, they were legally evicted at the end of January.

On Tuesday, while cleaning the property they found a dirty mess inside and out. When they got to the attached laundry room, they found a 3x3 plastic toy trunk outside on the back patio with blankets on top, wet from the rain.

"There was a lot of trash around it, blankets, and boxes of clothes that were wet," describes the landlord, "we were putting all this stuff in trash bags so we could take it to the dumpster."

The owner says they almost didn't open the trunk assuming it was trash, filled with more soggy blankets. That's when another helper, tugged at a blanket finding skeletal remains. The landlord knew it was a child.

"The shock, it's surreal, you look and you're like, could this really be," says the landlord.

Learning the remains are believed to be a 3-year-old named Roman brought the landlord to tears.

The landlord has a message to Roman's three older sisters and brother. "God loves them, and there's still good people in this life," says the landlord, "It doesn't matter where you come from, it's what you become in the future."

Tucson's Police Chief said Roman was often kept inside the attached laundry room outside. The homeowner describes it as an 8x10 brick room.

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8 months ago

TPD: Boy's bones found in toy box, parents charged

TUCSON - The mother of the child whose remains were found in a home has been charged with murder, Tucson Police said in a press conference Wednesday.

Raquel Barreras, 39, was arrested and charged with first degree murder of her 3-year-old son Roman Barreras. The boy's father and Raquel's husband, Martin Barreras, is charged with child abuse.

A landlord cleaning the property found Roman's skeletal remains Tuesday and called 911. Villaseñor said Roman's remains were found in an "attached structure" outside of the house in a blue toy box. The landlord said the previous tenants had been evicted.

Detectives later located the previous tenants-- Raquel, Martin and their 4 children-- near the 100 block of West Pennsylvania. Three of their daughters, aged 10 to 4 years, and a 12-year-old son were found with Raquel and Martin.

Villaseñor said Tucson Police were called to their home in the past. Officers checked on the welfare of the children when their schools had reported them truant.

3-year-old Roman lived mostly in this attached structure outside the house, Villaseñor said. The Barreras' were living in a home at one point that had no running water, Villaseñor added.

Villaseñor said the surviving children have been placed into protective custody.

Sources within Child Protective Services confirm that the agency was involved with the family in August 2012.

Court records show Raquel was found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in 2008.

Court records show the Barreras' were evicted from their home on Idaho in December for not paying rent.

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8 months ago

Child's remains found, police searching for former tenants

TUCSON - New details surrounding human remains found at a southside home. The remains appear to be of a small child.

Tucson Police do not believe those remains are Isabel Celis a Tucson girl who went missing, nearly two years ago. So the mystery remains, who is this child and what happened?

Police say the skeletal remains were found in the yard of a home near 17th Avenue and Nebraska Street Tuesday afternoon.

Police say the rental home is vacant. The owner was in the process of cleaning it when he made the disturbing discovery.

Neighbors are taken aback. "It's sad, you don't expect it around here," says Daniel Munoz.

Sally Mendoza says, "It just scares me, that it's close by my parents home and everything."

Neighbors watched as homicide and child abuse detectives surrounded the home, on Idaho Street. Tucson's Police Chief was also at the home.

Police say it's too soon to know if the remains are a boy, or girl or how long they've been there. "They are skeletal remains, so it's a little early to speculate," said Tucson Police Spokesperson Chris Widmer. "But it does appear they've been there for some time."

Police have ruled out the remains being Celis. "It's based on info we've received, and also the size of remains," says Widmer.

The landlord who found the remains outside in the yard is helping police track down previous tenants for questioning. News 4 Tucson spoke with the landlord, who isn't interested in commenting at this time.

For parents in the neighborhood it's a difficult situation to take in. "So I'm just interested to know, how old the child is, maybe they go to school with my children," says Garcia.

Munoz says, "I'm pretty sure the neighbors are going to be talking about it for a bit, and probably we more aware now of what's going on."

The remains will be taken to the Medical Examiner's office.

Stay with News 4 Tucson for the latest on this developing story.

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8 months ago

LIVE VIDEO: TPD news conference on the child remains found investigation

TUCSON - Chief Villasenor of the Tucson Police Department will hold a news conference at 3 p.m. to update the community on the remains of a child found in the yard of a southside home.

WATCH LIVE: http://www.kvoa.com/livestream/

The remains were found Tuesday when the homeowner came to clean up his property after tenants moved out.

News 4 Tucson will air the news conference live and stream it online. We'll have team coverage throughout the afternoon and evening.

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8 months ago

Remains of a child found at southside home

TUCSON - Tucson Police say remains found at a home on West Idaho on the south side are that of a child.

Detectives do NOT believe the remains have anything to do with the Isabel Celis case.

The remains were found in the yard of a home Tuesday afternoon by the owner of the home. The home was vacant and the owner was planning to get the property ready to be re-rented when he made the discovery.

We'll bring you more information as we get it on-air, online and on your mobile device.

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8 months ago

TPD: Human remains found on the property of a Tucson home

TUCSON - Tucson Police are investigating the discovery of human remains at a south side home.

A call about the human remains was made to 911 just after 3 p.m. Tuesday, Tucson Police spokesman Sgt. Chris Widmer said.

As of 5 p.m., detectives were headed to the home in the 700 block of West Idaho -- a neighborhood near 12th Avenue and Irvington.

No additional detail was immediately available.

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