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Police: Santa Fe boy in abuse case is brain-dead

September 25, 2018

A Santa Fe woman accused of abusing her 5-year-old stepson, who doctors over the weekend pronounced brain-dead, told police she didn’t mean to choke him “that hard.”

Police say 20-year-old Melynie Curtis admitted to strangling the boy, identified as Jayden Curtis, in their south-side apartment on Saturday afternoon.

One doctor told police the child is not expected to survive.

Investigators arrested Melynie Curtis on suspicion of child abuse resulting in great bodily harm. If the child dies, that charge would be changed to “resulting in death,” a department spokesman said Sunday.

Officers arrested her after finding inconsistencies in her story of how the boy sustained his injuries, police reports said. She initially told police she found the boy unresponsive in the bathtub after she left him there for about 20 minutes.

A doctor who treated the boy told police that explanation seemed unlikely, given that the boy was fully clothed and dry when paramedics found him on the floor of his apartment and because he had no water in his lungs when hospital staff examined him. A report said a doctor advised police that the cause of his injuries appears to be strangulation.

Police wrote that officers noticed scratches on Melynie Curtis’s right arm that looked as if they had been inflicted recently. She told investigators that Jayden had done that to her earlier in the day, documents say, and said her stepson would often taunt her by saying she was not his real mother and that his father, identified in the report as Royce Curtis, was not his real father.

Royce Curtis was at work when the incident happened, police said, and is not charged with any crimes. He told police that his wife had complained that his son often acted out toward her, but he never saw any such behavior. A report said the father told an officer that his son seemed more withdrawn and quiet since relocating to live with his father about a month ago.

Melynie Curtis, who also had a newborn baby and a 1-year-old with her when police found her at the hospital, told officers she tried to revive Jayden before being interrupted by one of her other children. At that point she called 911.

Paramedics subsequently called police, documents say.

Melynie Curtis initially stood by her story that she found Jayden “submerged” in the tub and pulled him out, a report said. Regarding his clothed, dry state, she told investigators that while he was naked in the tub, she dried and dressed him so he would be “warm and dry when he woke up.”

A police report said the state Children, Youth and Families Department recently had begun investigating the family after a doctor at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center treated the boy for a broken collar bone that Royce and Melynie Curtis said was inflicted by either another child at his school or by his older brother at home.

Henry Varela, spokesman for CYFD, said the department began an investigation following that report and was called again by city police over the weekend following Saturday’s incident.

He said police gave custody of Melynie Curtis’ other children to CYFD.

According to a police report, when Melynie Curtis learned that her other children were being turned over to CYFD, “She showed emotion for the first time and cried.”

Reports said Jayden was airlifted Saturday night to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.

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