SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A state senator is now asking New Mexico’s attorney general to conduct a formal investigation into the death of 10-year-old Victoria Martens.
Specifically, Senator Michael Padilla wants Attorney General Hector Balderas to investigate CYFD’s interaction with Victoria prior to her death, in order to determine if all processes were followed.
KRQE News 13 investigation revealed that staff at Victoria’s elementary school contacted CYFD social workers with concerns on at least two separate occasions.
On both occasions, two different CYFD case workers each interviewed Victoria at school. One of those visits from a CYFD case worker took place in May of 2016, just three months before police said Victoria was brutally murdered.
CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson has said that CYFD is conducting its own investigation. CYFD issued the following statement about Senator Padilla’s request Tuesday:
“This comes down to nothing more than a stunt by a lawmaker who is trying to pin the blame on everyone but the criminals who commit the crimes and liberal politicians who protect them. If Sen. Padilla was really concerned about making progress, his state senate wouldn’t have obstructed our bills that crack down on child abuse and strengthen penalties against those who hurt our kids.
The fact is, APD has said the department followed correct procedure, saying, “Based on our ongoing, active investigation, CYFD appears to have acted appropriately in their previous interactions with this family. Those interactions are not a factor in our investigation at this time.”
In the last few years, we have made a number of changes aimed at improving our child welfare efforts to better keep New Mexico children safe. These efforts include increasing the number of staff who work abuse and neglect cases by recruiting and retaining additional CYFD caseworkers; improving communication with law enforcement; and proactively working with families who have faced multiple CYFD investigations. We have also and will continue to fight for legislation aimed at holding those accountable who harm our children as well as those who harm our caseworkers.
At this time we are continuing to review the Victoria Martens case and will also continue to assist APD with their investigation of this case. We believe there are always ways we can improve our agency, and we’re going to do everything we can to continue our work and do everything possible to improve the quality of life of our children.”
The Governor’s Office also released a statement about Senator Padilla’s request Tuesday.
“It’s unfortunate that Michael Padilla is playing partisan politics with this tragedy. Frankly, Michael Padilla lost all credibility after multiple women filed sexual harassment suits against him and won, forcing taxpayers to shell out more than $250,000 for his bad behavior. Among other allegations, the city found that he pestered female employees to go on dates with him and said women should stay at home, “make tortillas,” and “clean the house.” We take every child abuse case seriously, but we don’t take the political grandstanding of a discredited politician seriously.”
Victoria’s mother, Michelle Martens, her boyfriend Fabian Gonzales and his cousin Jessica Kelley are all facing charges for her murder.