New Mexico

Death of 6-year-old Rio Rancho girl investigated as a homicide

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) - Rio Rancho police have confirmed the identity of a 6-year-old girl found murdered in her home this weekend. 

Ariana Jade Romeo was just about to turn 7. As you can imagine, her family and friends are in shock and disbelief. 

People close to the family say the mother is troubled, and the family's had problems in other states before moving here. 

Monday afternoon, Rio Rancho Police gave an update on the case, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions. 

Police say they aren't ruling out that Ariana could have been sexually assaulted before she was killed. 

Officers found the girl's body on Saturday at her home on Moonstone Drive. So far, police have not said how she was killed. 

Neighbors and friends confirm she's the girl in a photo holding a kindergarten certificate from Stapleton Elementary in Rio Rancho.

Police say although the FBI was called out to assist, it was simply for extra manpower. They wouldn't say if the mother was at home at the time the girl was killed, but did say she was there at the time they were called to the home. 

Police say they understand the community may be frustrated with no arrests, but they believe there are no dangerous suspects on the loose. 

"We want to be very diligent in the pursuit of this offender, we want to make sure we obtain a successful prosecution. We understand that the community is looking for an arrest and we like everyone else want to make that arrest, but we want to make sure we do it with all due diligence," Rio Rancho Police Captain Ron Vigil said. 

Police say there were other children in the home. They say they were older, but wouldn't elaborate on their relationship to Ariana or the mom, or their exact ages. 

It appears from the mother's Facebook page she also has a couple of teenage sons. 

Although police say they have an idea of how Ariana died, they are waiting to confirm the cause of death. 

Police said they have been called out to the home before but didn't specify if those calls were related to this family.

CYFD said while it is involved in the case, the agency never had any history with Romeo or her mother. CYFD said caseworkers also did not take any of the other children from the home that day.


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