ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Two 15-year-old girls who went missing after their foster mother was killed have been apprehended and charged with murdering her, Lincoln County authorities said Thursday.
A search for the teens began after Evelyn Miranda, 53, who was specially trained to take in troubled youths, was found dead Wednesday morning of apparent asphyxiation. The girls and the woman's van were missing from her home in the small Hondo Valley community of San Patricio.
The teens were caught about 12 hours later at a home in Carlsbad, about 120 miles away, after police got a tip, Lincoln County Undersheriff Robert Shepperd said. Each was charged with one open count of murder, which lets prosecutors determine the degree of the charge at a later date.
Police in Roswell, which is on the way from San Patricio to Carlsbad, found the dead woman's minivan Thursday morning.
Sheriff's officials released few others details about the case. The girls, from Roswell and Mescalero, were in the Chavez County juvenile detention center in Roswell pending a custody hearing, officials said.
Prosecutors will have to decide whether to charge the girls as adults, as New Mexico gives district attorneys the authority to prosecute anyone over 14 in adult court.
According to prosecutors, one of the girls had recently been arrested on battery charges and had been put on a year's probation less than a week ago and ordered to spend time in a "treatment foster home." Miranda was a treatment foster parent, meaning she had undergone extra training to accommodate such children.
Enrique Carlos Knell, of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, said treatment foster homes are separate from state-licensed foster homes for abused and neglected children. The treatment homes are facilities where parents can voluntarily send their troubled children, and they are also used by the juvenile courts as an alternative to sending kids to psychiatric facilities, he said.
Friends and neighbors told the Albuquerque Journal that Miranda was a loving, generous person with two grown children who had been taking in foster children for years. She also served the homebound elderly.
"Everybody's still in shock," Sandra Romero, who described herself as a lifelong friend of Miranda's. "She was just a fun-loving person. She always had a smile, always cared for anybody and everybody."
She provided foster parenting through Mesilla Valley Therapeutic Foster Care, based in Ruidoso. Officials there said they were prohibited from discussing the case due to patient confidentiality laws.
On March 1, the bodies of Charles and Marilyn Long, the boys parents, were found shot to death in their Burlington, Colorado home. The boy's two younger siblings, 5-year-old Sarah and 9-year-old Ethan were gravely wounded, but not killed, according to a CBSNews report. After allegedly firing upon his family, the 12-year-old boy called 911 to report that members of his family had been shot.
9News reports that the suspect is facing nine charges: two first-degree murders charges, two attempted murder counts and multiple counts of assault which are associated with the almost fatal wounds he allegedly administered to his younger brother and sister with both a knife and firearm.
According to CBSNews, the Long family's church pastor Ron Lee said the 12-year-old boy was active in their church, frequently handing out church bulletins, greeting church visitors before Sunday service, working with audio and video equipment, running Powerpoint presentations and helping children learn memory verses.
But, the big question on everyone's mind at the hearing was: Do you try a 12-year-old accused killer as an adult or as a minor? The Denver Post reports that District Attorney Bob Watson will have 30 days to decide to request a transfer hearing in which the judge could then decide to try the boy as an adult.
In a statement to The Denver Post, Watson said:
Half of a community will want me shot if I give a kid anything other than a hug, the other half of a community wants me shot if I don't go as far as life.
Answer by ObbyDobbie at 12:05 PM on Jun. 10, 2011
Answer by bellagracie82 at 12:09 PM on Jun. 10, 2011
Answer by LeJane at 12:11 PM on Jun. 10, 2011
Answer by LeJane at 12:24 PM on Jun. 10, 2011
Answer by Carpy at 4:35 PM on Jun. 10, 2011
Answer by UpSheRises at 7:21 PM on Jun. 10, 2011
I say 15 maybe 14, depending on the circumstances.
Answer by TBandNCmommy at 10:05 PM on Jun. 10, 2011
Answer by Raine2001 at 10:13 AM on Jun. 11, 2011
Answer by wendythewriter at 8:11 PM on Jun. 12, 2011
Answer by mekarevell at 11:06 PM on Jun. 13, 2011