Foster parents indicted in boy’s death

Written by Brent Ruffner/News-Bulletin
Wednesday, 13 July 2011 07:00

Two Los Chavez foster parents were indicted by a Valencia County grand jury July 8 on three counts of child abuse after police say they gave their foster son enough alcohol and prescription medication to result in his 2007 death.
A grand jury said there is enough evidence for Eugene Gallegos, 47, and Latricia Marquez, age unknown, to proceed to trial for the death of 14-year-old Joseph Archibeque. The pair were indicted on one count of intentional child abuse resulting in death, or the alternatives of negligent child abuse resulting in death and permissive child abuse resulting in death; one count of distribution of a controlled substance to a minor; one count of tampering with evidence and one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence.
On Dec. 26, 2007, Valencia County Sheriff deputies responded to a callin the 440 block of Miller Road in Los Lunas that Archibeque was not breathing. They found Archibeque in his bedroom lying on a bed on his side with a large amount of vomit near him. The boy was dead when deputies arrived.
In an interview Monday, retired Valencia County Sheriff's Detective Aaron Jones said the boy was given alcoholic beverages and methadone, a drug known for its low cost and powerful effects, the night before he died.
Methadone is a drug used by heroin addicts, and people take the drug for chronic pain, Jones said.
Jones, who was the lead investigator on the case, said the foster parents moved the boy from a cot onto a different bed to conceal the incident. He said the adults provided negligent care and said the boy lived in subhuman conditions in a room that was like "a broom closet."
"They allowed him to consume alcohol and narcotics in a cocktail-type situation," said Jones. "That's a big no-no."
Jones said Gallegos and Marquez should have done more to help their foster son. He said Marquez was a registered nurse.
It is unknown how long the boy was lying in the room before police arrived. Jones said the autopsy report said the boy choked on his vomit.
"(The parents) said they found him when they called him for breakfast," Jones said. "But we all know that's not true."
He said the pair were using the boy as "caged support for income" from the state. He said the boy received income for his condition, but Jones would not say what that condition was or how much care the boy needed on a regular basis.
The retired detective said the case was in danger of being forgotten after the incident was initially ruled as an unattended death. He said that in 2007 there were a lot of high-profile cases that investigators were working on, and the unattended death wasn't seen as a priority.
But he said he fought to make sure the case landed in the hands of the district attorney's office before his retirement.
"I wanted to make sure this was one of the things I had done before I left," Jones said.
He said the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department was initially uncooperative to the "point (law enforcement officials) had to get ugly about it."
He said CYFD officials were in favor of leaving the case as an accidental overdose or a suicide.
But Jones said it is important for law enforcement to stand up for victims of crimes.
"You have to speak up for victims that are deceased," Jones said. "If no one is batting for them in life, you have to bat for them in death."
Gallegos and Marquez are not in custody, and an arraignment hearing has not yet been scheduled.