6-year-old's body showed signs of strangulation, sex assault | KOB 4

6-year-old's body showed signs of strangulation, sex assault

October 09, 2018 05:07 PM

RIO RANCHO, N.M. - A 21-year-old man's DNA was found on the body of a 6-year-old girl who police say was sexually assaulted and killed in Rio Rancho in August.


In a criminal complaint, authorities say a DNA swab voluntarily submitted by Leland Hust was matched to evidence found on Ariana Romeo's body.

The complaint also reveals that Ariana's body showed signs consistent with strangulation or suffocation.

Police interviewed Hust following Ariana's death. According to the complaint, he told police that he put on a movie for Ariana and then went to sleep. 

Husk is facing multiple charges, including child abuse resulting in death. He appeared in court Tuesday.

The state requested that Hust is held without bond before trial. The judge moved that motion to District Court, meaning Hust will remain behind bars until the motion is heard in another courtroom.

The Other Investigation:

The investigation into Ariana’s death also led to the arrest of Winston Scates Sr. During interviews, a child told police that Scates would touch her breasts.

According to court documents, the abuse started when the girl was 6-years-old. Police said Scates admitted to the abuse because he "is obsessed with breasts."

Scates is charged with criminal contact of a minor, seven years after he was accused of inappropriately touching another 5-year-old. He was never formally charged in that case.

The state is also requesting Scates be held in custody without bond before trial. That motion will be heard at a later date.

Investigation Timeline:

Rio Rancho Police released a statement regarding questions about why it took so long for an arrest to be made in Ariana's death.

The department said it "had to ensure due diligence was conducted."

The statement went on to say, "Every effort was made to ensure the public’s safety during this intensive investigation."

Read the full RRPD statement



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