ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque teenager is looking for answers. She said after her mother died, the Office of the Medical Investigator has given her the run-around, and she still has not been able to lay her mother to rest. Grace Martinez, 15, said OMI told her that her mom was not there. Then, they said she was there.
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Next, Grace said OMI told her that her mom had been cremated. Then, she was told her mom actually wasn’t cremated. Now, Grace said she doesn’t know what to believe. Grace is trying to give her mother some closure. “It is hard because I know she is not even at rest yet,” Grace said.
That’s because Grace said her mom, 37-year-old Renee Sombrano Martinez has been at the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque since last October. Grace said it took a long time to figure that out. “I feel like that is not something I should be doing at my age,” Grace said.
Grace said her mom was homeless, and she was told she passed away in a tent near San Pedro and Central last year. Grace lives with her grandma. Trying to confirm what they had heard, Grace said the family and representatives have called OMI more than 20 times since January asking if Renee was there. “We talked to them, and they told us they didn’t have her,” Grace said. “No Renees at all.”
The family said a missing person report was filed with the Albuquerque Police Department in March. They found out two weeks later that Renee actually was at OMI. They confirmed Thursday that they do have a decedent by the name of Renee Sombrano, but they would not say how long she has been there. On top of that, once the family finally found out Renee was in fact dead and at OMI, Grace said OMI told them she’d been cremated. “The lady investigating the case, I talked to her,” Grace said. “She said she hadn’t been cremated yet.”
So the family has no idea if Renee has been cremated. KRQE News 13 asked OMI why it’s been so hard for the family to get answers. OMI said all they could say is that decisions about what happens to a decedent go to the next of kin. “If her daughter isn’t next of kin, who is?” asked Executive Director of Street Safe New Mexico Christine Barber.
Barber was Renee’s caseworker and has been trying to help the family get answers. “The whole thing is just so frustrating,” Barber said. “Is it because she was found out here in a tent and decided she was indigent? If she was found in a house, would she be treated differently? The answer to this is probably yes.”
Grace said her mom doesn’t deserve to be treated like this. “No one does,” Grace said.
KRQE News 13 asked OMI who the next of kin is, but they wouldn’t say. Grace said OMI hasn’t given her older sister any answers either. Grace also said her dad may still be legally married to her mom and perhaps he is the next of kin. However, on top of all of this, her dad passed away Wednesday night.
The family still doesn’t know the mother’s cause of death. Street Safe New Mexico said they filed an official complaint with OMI and asked them to find Renee’s ashes or body. They still haven’t directly heard back. Grace set up a GoFundMe to support her family.