KOB Web Staff
Updated: August 03, 2020 05:30 PM
Created: August 03, 2020 05:27 PM
CARLSBAD, N.M. - The Carlsbad community is mourning the tragic death of 8-year-old, Samantha Rubino.
Carlsbad police said Juan Lerma, 33, is accused of killing his daughter, Samantha Rubino, in Carlsbad Saturday.
“There was some interaction between the family members of Mr. Lerma and himself which raised some suspicions about the welfare of the deceased,” said Carlsbad Chief of Police, Shane Skinner. “They were expressing concern for the possible welfare of the children in particular, the child that ended up being the victim in this case.”
Investigators said Juan’s mother told them “she would drop off Samantha at Juan’s residence when she worked and would pick her up when she got off.”
According to the criminal complaint, Juan’s mother told investigators she went to Juan’s home Saturday to pick up Samantha, and stated “she didn’t see Samantha and asked where she was.”
Juan’s mother stated “Juan told her that Samantha died, and she asked what happened and he told her that he wrapped Samantha’s body in a black plastic bag and placed her into the back of the black suburban.”
“It doesn’t appear there was any strangulation, any broken bones, anything of that nature but it does—it looks like there’s a severe head injury that caused a possible brain bleed this time,” Skinner said. “ That’s the initial observation, so I’m thinking probably more of a heavy blunt force trauma to the head was going to end up being the cause of death.”
Police said Samantha’s body was found “in black trash bags and placed into a garbage can in front of the residence on the north end.”
Lerma is charged with abuse of a child resulting in death, tampering with evidence and intimidation of a witness; he is currently being held at the Eddy Detention Center without bond.
According to family members, Samantha’s mother died in April and claims she and her sibling were placed in their father’s care through CYFD, because he was the only relative in the state of New Mexico.
Statement from CYFD:
“CYFD did not have any decision making authority in the child’s placement after the mother’s death. It is outside CYFD’s scope to determine custody in family/private matters. The Children, Youth & Families Department only determines placement after a child has been taken into the state’s custody in an abuse or neglect investigation, as outlined in state law (NMSA 32A-4-3 to 32A-4-10). Pursuant to NMSA 32-4-33.1, CYFD can confirm that Samantha Rubino, an 8-year-old girl, died either on 7/31/20 or 8/1/20 with a final determination being made in an autopsy. The child was in her father’s custody at the time of her death and not in the custody of the department. We are conducting an investigation into the death and upon completion of that investigation will release the summary of findings if it is determined that neglect or abuse caused the child’s death. The department currently has no policy against placing children with out-of-state relatives as a result of COVID-19. The department’s goal is to place a child in the most appropriate and safe placement possible, including consideration of out of state relatives. CYFD has in fact determined safe and out-of-state placements during the pandemic. Before a child can be placed out of state, an Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children agreement must be completed which can delay the immediate placement of children outside of New Mexico. The State of New Mexico must coordinate with the child welfare system of the receiving state to help monitor the children, and the local child welfare authority must complete a home study and other investigations before a child can be placed in that state.”
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