Three family members charged with murder after locking boys in closet for 16 hours a day

The boys were shut in at 8pm and kept there until noon the next day

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 05 March 2020 00:34 GMT
Anthony Jose Archibeque-Martinez, 23, and Elizabeth Archibeque-Martinez, 26
Anthony Jose Archibeque-Martinez, 23, and Elizabeth Archibeque-Martinez, 26 (Coconino County Jail)

An Arizona mother, father and grandmother were charged with murder and child abuse after confessing to keeping a six-year-old in a closet with his brother for “stealing food”. The child died.

Anthony Jose Archibeque-Martinez, 23, Elizabeth Archibeque-Martinez, 26, and Ann Marie Martinez, 50, were each charged with one count of first degree felony homicide and two counts each of child abuse. They are currently being held at the Coconino County Jail.

Fox10 Phoenix reported that the boy who died and his seven-year-old brother would be kept in a closet 16 hours daily for a month, during which time they were denied food. The boys survived by stealing food at night while their parents slept.

The boys would be shut into the closet around 8pm and would not be allowed out until noon the following day. They were given oatmeal at noon and a cheese sandwich four hours later, but were given nothing after 4pm.

Police became aware of the children when they received a call regarding an unresponsive child at the location. Responding officers tried to revive the child but were unsuccessful.

The seven-year-old is recovering in the hospital at the Flagstaff Medical Center. He is in the care of the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

The DCS took custody of two other children found in the home, a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl.

Darren DaRonco, a spokesman for the DCS, said the department “mourns the tragic loss of this innocent life”, and confirmed that the children would receive care to help them recover.

The six-year-old’s cause of death is still being investigated.

Leslie Lerma, who lives in the neighbourhood where the death occurred, said she was disturbed by the situation.

“That little boy suffered. I’m not going to sleep well tonight,” she said.

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