Court docket information element the “horrifying” abuse within the loss of life of a developmentally disabled girl

New Mexico Legal professional Normal Rual Torrez speaks about an abuse case that claimed the lifetime of a 38-year-old girl with developmental disabilities earlier this 12 months. (Jon Austria/Albuquerque Newspaper)
Angelita Chacon, left, Luz Scott, prime proper, and Patricia Hurtado. (Legal professional Normal’s Workplace)

Two aides and one other particular person have been charged within the April loss of life of a 38-year-old girl with developmental disabilities who was discovered to have suffered “horrible” abuse-related accidents whereas within the care of the state.

The abuse case is what led the state to terminate contracts with 4 well being care employees concerned and, on Thursday, Legal professional Normal Ral Torrez instructed reforms to the state’s developmental incapacity waiver program.

Torrez described the abuse as “nothing in need of torture.”

He mentioned the DD Waiver Program “when nicely executed” permits adults and kids with disabilities to be cared for out of doors establishments and in the neighborhood, cared for by family members or educated professionals.

This was not the case for Mary Melero.

Authorities found the alleged abuse on February 27, when Angelita Chacon and her girlfriend, Patricia Hurtado, tried to drive a van throughout the border into Mexico. Melero was on the ground of the van with severe accidents: strain sores that reached to the bone, open wounds that have been septic, and restraint bruises, in keeping with courtroom paperwork.

Melero had reportedly been left in a toilet at Chacon’s residence for days at a time in her personal urine and feces, amongst different abuse.

Border Patrol officers who discovered Melero described her as keen to speak “nonetheless, solely tears fell from her eyes.” One officer was so upset that she warned a colleague to not look, that she “did not need to see him.”

Melero was taken to a hospital in El Paso, the place she suffered a coronary heart assault and by no means regained consciousness earlier than being taken off life help on April 7.

On Tuesday, Chacon, 52, and Hurtado, 42, each of Rio Rancho, have been charged with abusing and neglecting a resident ensuing of their loss of life, false detention, failure to report and felony conspiracy. Luz Scott, 53, of Clovis, who allegedly let the ladies use her van to take Melero to Mexico, is charged with false detention and conspiracy.

If convicted, Chacon and Hurtado who have been jailed withstand 20 years in jail. Scott, who has a warrant out for his arrest, faces as much as three years in jail.

It’s unclear whether or not any of the three girls have a lawyer.


Chacon is a convicted felon, charged with auto theft in 1999, who was initially denied a 2014 utility to be an assistant for the state’s DD waiver program. Torrez’s workplace mentioned Chacon appealed and the sentence was overturned. It was then that he started caring for his son, now 29, who’s developmentally disabled and within the opt-out program.

Torrez mentioned Melero’s mom, her major caregiver, died a number of years in the past and in October 2020, she was positioned in Chacon’s care.

Torrez mentioned Chacon has since raised $236,000 in Medicaid funding to look after Melero and Chacon’s little one. Like Chacon, Hurtado has raised $2,500 a month to look after Melero, although the overall quantity she was given is unclear.

In March, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham mentioned the state Division of Well being terminated its contracts with At House Advocacy Inc., New Imaginative and prescient Case Administration, Lynn Barbour, LLC and Sylvester & Firm, which had raised tons of of 1000’s of Medicaid {dollars} for oversight of Melero care.

On Thursday, Torrez mentioned At House Advocacy Inc., which supplies residential residence care, documented a number of visits to Chacon’s residence as much as a month earlier than he reported to the border. She mentioned her workplace is wanting into the standard of these visits and whether or not they occurred or have been simply billed.

At House Advocacy mentioned, in a press release launched, “All instances of neglect and abuse have to be confronted head on. The current arrests are an necessary step on this route. We intend to proceed collaborating with investigators, as we at all times have.”

Not one of the different distributors have been contacted for remark.

In all, officers mentioned the 4 firms offered look after as much as 700 adults and grossed tons of of 1000’s to tens of millions of federal {dollars} for these companies.

In March, Lujan Grisham additionally introduced a plan to display screen 1000’s of different disabled adults receiving help beneath the state program.

At Thursday’s press convention, Torrez mentioned the state did wellness checks on 6,800 DD waiver individuals between March 20 and April 21.

Torrez mentioned they’re all lively investigations and no costs have been filed.

“I believe earlier than we’re completed, we’ll have many extra instances, not simply felony referrals, however possible prosecutions stemming from abuse and neglect on this inhabitants,” he mentioned. “But it surely’s onerous, at this level, to know the way massive and severe this drawback is.”

Legal professional Normal believes DD waiver program wants extra sources, oversight

New Mexico Legal professional Normal Ral Torrez has instructed a number of reforms to the developmentally disabled state waiver…

The Melero case

When Melero was positioned in Chacon’s care in 2020, she was reportedly capable of stroll, discuss, bathe and put together easy meals for herself. When she was discovered, authorities say Melero was clutching at her life.

On Feb. 27, Chacon and Hurtado tried to enter Ciudad Jurez at round 7:00 p.m., however Mexican authorities thought they have been “suspicious” and located marijuana contained in the van, in keeping with an arrest warrant affidavit filed on the Sandoval County Justice of the Peace’s Court docket. The pair have been ordered again to the El Paso checkpoint for additional inspections and officers discovered Melero on a chunk of froth beneath the again seat.

Authorities mentioned Melero’s lips have been sewn shut, he had “big” mattress sores and soiled bandages coated open wounds on his physique. Chacon instructed officers she gave Melero the antihistamine Benadryl and that he was taking her to a physician in Mexico as a result of hospitals in America could not deal with her.

After Melero was taken to the hospital, Chacon was “chilly and uncaring” and he or she and Hurtado have been desirous to return to Rio Rancho, in keeping with the affidavit. Melero suffered a coronary heart assault brought on by septic shock from wounds overlaying his physique shortly after his arrival and misplaced consciousness.

Authorities mentioned the van was registered to Scott’s title and that she had adopted the van in Chacon’s automotive in the course of the journey to Mexico. Scott instructed New Mexico State Police that Chacon had referred to as her and requested if she may deliver her penicillin to her Rio Rancho residence.

Scott instructed police when he noticed Melero’s accidents, he instructed Chacon that antibiotics would not do any good, in keeping with the affidavit. He mentioned Chacon requested to borrow his van to hunt assist in Mexico.

Authorities mentioned Scott then requested for a lawyer.

On March 10, Chacon instructed FBI brokers that Melero got here to dwell together with her on October 31, 2020, describing her as “so good” but in addition “devious, conniving.”

Officers mentioned Chacon instructed them Melero “broke her” and he or she “could not take it anymore.” She instructed officers that Melero had not too long ago thrown a stereo at her, so Chacon threw it again, splitting Melero’s lip.

Chacon instructed officers he didn’t search medical consideration, fearing his son can be taken away from his care, and had a good friend sew up Melero’s lips with a package bought on-line, in keeping with the affidavit. Chacon detailed a number of bodily fights between her and Melero, with Hurtado additionally getting concerned.

Officers mentioned Chacon instructed them he “begged” a supervisor at At House Advocacy Inc. to take away Melero from his residence, however they did nothing. Chacon additionally mentioned the AHA was billing for nursing hours that by no means occurred.

Chacon instructed officers that in November or December, Melero grew to become “combatant” and commenced defecating and urinating within the bathtub, in keeping with the affidavit. He mentioned he would go away Melero within the tub, coated in his personal waste, for as much as three days simply asking if he wished something to eat.

Officers mentioned Chacon instructed them he instructed Melero “he may keep like this if he wished to dwell like this,” however reported the habits to the AHA. Chacon mentioned that after a struggle by which Hurtado repeatedly hit Melero on the top, an AHA supervisor instructed her to “name the police.”

Chacon instructed officers {that a} “behavioral counsel” with Lynn Barbour LLC instructed her she “had the fitting to defend herself (in opposition to Melero) in any approach she may,” in keeping with the affidavit. Chacon mentioned in January Melero started defecating and urinating throughout her room and, on Feb. 28, she noticed Melero’s wounds “and panicked.”

Officers mentioned Chacon instructed them he did not need to take Melero to a hospital in New Mexico for concern his son can be taken away due to Melero’s accidents. Chacon mentioned they have been on their strategy to a hospital in Texas however “took a incorrect flip” in Mexico.

The FBI referred to as the AHA supervisor and he or she instructed them that Chacon was getting somewhat over $5,000 a month to look after each her son and Melero.

Brokers mentioned the AHA has obtained greater than $236,000 in Medicaid {dollars} for Melero’s placement and care since February 2020. The supplier has documented 9 situations the place it billed for companies, visits or in any other case since July 2022.

Officers mentioned the supervisor instructed them Melero had weekly video visits with a habits counselor and month-to-month wellness visits at Chacon’s residence, in keeping with the affidavit. He mentioned the final residence go to was on January 25 and that “physique checks” weren’t carried out, however no accidents have been noticed on Melero.

The supervisor instructed officers the following wellness go to was set for Feb. 27, however Chacon referred to as to reschedule.

On April 7, Melero was taken off life help after being on a ventilator for 35 days.

An official explanation for loss of life has not been launched by the Workplace of the Medical Investigator. The docs instructed the brokers that Melero arrived affected by sepsis and pneumonia.

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