More questions arise in child abuse case

By Gary Mitchell

After Clovis police arrested Myrena Rodriguez on Saturday for abandoning her 9-month-old daughter, family members began to question the way police handled the case.
In turn, police detectives have a few questions of their own — both about the statement given by the 18-year-old mother now in custody on a $60,000 cash-only bond and the role family members played in the incident.
Officers, along with family members, discovered Rodriguez’s 9-month-old baby abandoned, dehydrated and malnourished inside a travel trailer on Saturday, according to Clovis police. The baby remained in a Lubbock hospital on Tuesday, but family and police said her health is improving.
Rodriguez’s other child, a 2-year-old boy, was with the mother in her apartment in the 300 block of Reid Street when police located her. The daughter was found in a travel trailer in the 1800 block of Brady Avenue, according to the criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court.
“A lot of things don’t add up,” said police detective Matthew Solari. “Myrena told us she was petrified of her sisters. She said she could never get any help from her family. Her family hasn’t helped her at all, that they just want to take her children. It’s in her statement.”
However, it was family members who went to police when they hadn’t seen Myrena Rodriguez’s baby daughter for several days, said Teresa Rodriguez, 31, one of Myrena’s sister.
“We felt the police didn’t take our concerns seriously enough,” she said. “They did talk to my sister, but my sister couldn’t give them a good answer (where her daughter was). She had been real depressed. She had been going to Mental Health Resources, but she had been missing her appointments.”
Teresa said her brother called her from his work on Friday and asked if she had seen Myrena’s baby recently.
“We thought we would check on her since we hadn’t seen her,” Teresa said. “We checked with my sister, but she told us the baby was at our mother’s house, but when I called Mother, she said she hadn’t seen the baby for several days.”
Once the police were contacted, the officer contacted Myrena at her mother’s house.
“Myrena said her sisters have been trying to take (the baby) from her and she was getting tired of her sisters,” wrote Officer Lyndell “Max” Stansell in his police report. “Myrena said she has been moving into her apartment the past few days and she left (the baby) at her friend’s house. … Myrena said she did not want to tell her sisters where (the baby) was because she was afraid one of the sisters would go and take the baby.”
Stansell told Myrena to call him when she picked up the baby so he could check on her.
“I told Myrena that if she did not call me by the time I got off work, I would have a detective start working on the case,” he wrote in his report. “I never received a call from Myrena before I got off work.”
“The next day, we found the baby,” Teresa said. “We met the officer at my sister’s apartment, and she eventually told us where the baby was.”
The baby’s father was present when Myrena was arrested by police, Teresa said.
“The father didn’t get questioned,” she said. “I think he should have been arrested along with her. Why didn’t the police arrest him — or at least question him?”
Solari said the baby’s father does not support the children, but “we plan to get him in here for questioning.”
The baby’s father could not be reached for comment.
Both children — the 2-year-old son and the baby — have been placed in custody with the Children, Youth and Families Department, Solari said.
“I talked to CYFD and they said the child would be released (from Lubbock’s University Medical Center) in a day or two,” he said. “They’re doing interviews to see which family members will get custody.”
Myrena Rodriguez has been charged with first-degree felony of abandonment or abuse of a child, obstruction of reporting or investigation of child abuse or neglect and protective custody due to mental problems.
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. July 17.