PHOENIX, AZ (March 23, 2011) - Humelio Dominguez-Vazquez (DOB 5/25/1977), Christopher Joseph Lopez (DOB 9/9/1973) and Juanita Trevino Rodriguez (3/2/1967) have been charged with multiple felony counts of child abuse in connection with the death of Juanita Buelna, who is the granddaughter of Rodriguez. The child died on March 11, 2011 while in the care of Dominguez-Vazquez, who is the boyfriend of Rodriguez, and Lopez, who is a roommate. The exact cause and manner of death has not been determined pending a medical examiner’s report.
“What we know at this point is that an innocent child suffered a brutal and painful death while in the custody of adults who were supposed to be looking after her,” said Maricopa County Bill Montgomery. “My office is determined to uncover the circumstances that led to this senseless tragedy and to bring those responsible for this crime to justice,” he added.
On the afternoon of March 11, 2011 Phoenix Police were called to an apartment on Black Canyon Highway shared by Dominguez-Vazquez, Lopez and Rodriguez. They were met by Lopez who told them they were no longer needed. Police knocked on the door several times until Dominguez-Vazquez opened the door and led them to a back bedroom where Buelna was found unresponsive. Paramedics attempted unsuccessfully to revive her and transported her to St. Joseph’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead. An external exam of Buelna’s body revealed scars on her back, bottom, arms and legs, a healing skull fracture, and severe burns on her leg, foot and top of her hand.
On the day of this incident, Rodriguez left Buelna in the care of Dominguez-Vazquez and Lopez while she went to the Lower Buckeye Jail to visit her son. During an interview, the suspects admitted that the child had been burned by scalding water 7 to 10 days earlier when Lopez tried to wash her off after she had a bathroom accident. They claimed they did not seek treatment for the child because they believed Lopez would be arrested and would no longer receive his Social Security payments and the child would be taken by Child Protective Services.
All three defendants remain in custody. Rodriguez and Lopez are each being held on a $150,000 bond. Dominguez-Vazquez is being held without bond.