Mother charged for death of infant nearly 1 year later
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Victoria Romero, 39, is facing child abuse charges for the death of her 7-month-old baby nearly a year ago. The baby died in June 2022.
An autopsy showed the baby suffocated after getting stuck between a bed and a window sill. The baby also had meth in his system.
The OMI noted the meth toxicity as a significant condition contributing to his death. At the time, CYFD investigated.
According to court documents, after the baby died, Romero and three children ages 3 and 4 also tested positive for meth. The children, including two other minors remained in Romero’s home.
The death investigation was re-examined after CYFD was called again in March. Romero’s 2-year-old grandchild was reported for smelling like marijuana, the court document said. It says the child was taken to day care with red, droopy eyes on two different occasions.
Romero initially told APD officers the smell was due to a skunk problem in the area. But according to court documents, weeks later a hair follicle drug test on the 2-year-old came back positive for meth and THC.
CYFD also tried to test the 3 and 4-year-old child for drugs in the home, however before they could do the hair follicle testing, court records show Romero cut their hair too short for a test.
According to court records, CYFD workers met with the legal team to discuss petitioning to keep the children in state custody.
However, it was determined they could not consider the baby’s death in June as the “case was closed within their system and Victoria had completed all CYFD requirements to have her children return to her care.”
The final decision was that CYFD did not have legal authority to keep the children in state custody.
Romero will be in court Thursday for a preventative detention hearing.
A CYFD spokesperson sent the following statement to KOB 4:
“According to statute, we are not able to comment on an investigation.
Regarding the legislative session and our plan forward for vastly improving care for the children in CYFD custody, urgency is the name of the game here. The governor’s executive order directed immediate and targeted changes that will transform an antiquated child welfare system into one that better serves New Mexico’s most vulnerable children and families.
Here’s what we’ve done so far:
We posted these new positions online on 4/11/23: Director of Agency Communications and Marketing, Deputy Secretary of Youth Services, Deputy Secretary of Behavioral Health and Emergency Services, Deputy Secretary of Operations and Program Support and leadership for the Office of Innovation. We are actively recruiting for these positions within New Mexico and nationwide. Having a robust new leadership team will kick this work into high gear, and this is a priority at this time.
Established an advisory council to inform our work in this space. We’ve identified that many stakeholders were not feeling heard or considered by CYFD. The new advisory council includes representatives from shelters, foster parents, families that have worked with the CYFD system, the justice system and others who will provide invaluable information has we execute this transformation.
We are prioritizing hiring, in order to reduce the caseloads per CYFD employee. This will serve to provide better casework for the families and improved quality of life for our employees.
Our other key priority is the retention and recruitment of foster families so that we have high quality, well supported placements for children in CYFD care.”