One year later: Family of Jeremiah Valencia opens up about boy's tragic death
November 26, 2018 06:09 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Jeremiah Valencia's sister and aunt are still struggling to come to grips with the 13-year-old boy's death.
Police said he was beaten and kept in a dog cage. Investigators believe Jeremiah died in November 2017. His body was found in northern New Mexico in January.
That's not how Jeremiah's half-sister, Karen Gonzales, likes to remember her brother.
"He was hyper. He was a little daredevil, so, like, I had my hands full sometimes," Gonzales said.
Jeremiah had a lot of interest, including fishing, basketball and cars.
Jeremiah's aunt, Celine Miera, helped raised him. She said his interests in cars started at a young age.
"He just always had a thing about cars since he was small," Miera said.
Gonzales said Jeremiah was looking forward to eventually getting his driver's license.
"Every time we'd drive around he'd go, 'Oh myGod, look at that car,'" she said.
Gonzales said Jeremiah wanted a car so he could take care of his family and drive his little sister around.
"He was a good big brother," Gonzales said. "He stood up for her all the time."
Miera recalled not being able to reach Jeremiah late last year. She said she couldn't get ahold of Jeremiah or his mother, Tracy Pena.
"Tracy has a big history of going in and out of jail," Miera said. "I've gotten calls to go get them before. Whenever she's gotten in trouble or if something's happening or whatever, she would call me and say, 'Hey, can you come get the kids.' Or if they were in a bind or something. It was always, 'Call aunty. Aunty will come get you.' But I didn't get a call this time.
Not knowing where Jeremiah was or how he was doing was a scary feeling, Gonzales said.
"For me, it was the longest week," Gonzales said. "I was calling CYFD and the cops almost every single day trying to get answers. And nobody was able to help me."
A few days later, the sheriff's office told them they had reason to believe Jeremiah was dead.
"When I talked to the sheriff on the phone, I told him, 'Well, did you find him?' And he said, 'I'm sending someone to come talk to you," Miera said. "When they said they were sending someone, that he couldn’t talk about it on the phone, I kind of figured. They found him."
Jeremiah’s remains were found buried off a state highway near Nambe.
Investigators would soon reveal he had been beaten, starved, kept in a dog cage and poked with a spear, allegedly at the hands of Jeremiah's mother, her boyfriend, Thomas Ferguson, and Ferguson’s son, Jordan Nunez.
Ferguson killed himself inside the Santa Fe County in April, but Pena and Nunez are still facing charges, in connection to Jeremiah's death.
Pena is expected to take a plea.
Miera and Gonzales said their focus is getting justice for Jeremiah.
"My hito's not here anymore, but I have all the memories inside that no one can ever take away from me," Miera said.
Gonzales said she wants to keep Jeremiah's memory alive for her sister.
"Definitely the memories. And then just the fact that my sister is still out there, so like, I still want to try and be there for her," Gonzales said.
Holding onto her faith, Miera believes she will eventually be reunited with Jeremiah.
"Jeremiah's not gonna be gone from my heart, and well, anybody's heart that he touched. Anyone that knew him, he touched their heart," Miera said. "I guarantee you they'll never forget Jeremiah. He's going to be a part of my life forever. Until I see him again.
Updated: November 26, 2018 06:09 PM
Created: November 25, 2018 08:10 PM
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