Failed to Death: Neveah Gallegos

7:45 PM, Nov 12, 2012   |    comments
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Age: 3 yrs.
Born: Aug 1, 2004
Died: Sept 24, 2007
Location: Denver
Suspect in death: Angel Ray Montoya, mother's boyfriend

Gallegos knew that her boyfriend, Angel Ray Montoya, was a registered sex offender. She knew he was accused of choking and hitting another little boy in his care. She knew that days after Montoya gave her daughter a bath, Janet Gallegos rushed her 3-year-old granddaughter to the hospital for vaginal bleeding.

She knew. She promised. She left her daughter with him anyway.

Nine months before Denver police found Neveah's body, stuffed in a white trash bag, dumped in a gulch and covered with garbage, child-protection workers for Denver County had closed an investigation into allegations of abuse of Neveah.

Miriam Gallegos was in therapy and parenting classes, according to a county and state review of Neveah's death. Inconclusive medical findings and an "inability to interview" Montoya - whose whereabouts were unknown - led child-protection workers to declare that allegations of sexual abuse were "unfounded." Investigators with the Denver Police Department determined that there was a lack of evidence and insufficient probable case to arrest Montoya, the review said.

A state review of Neveah's death determined that caseworkers failed to document concerns about Gallegos as a caregiver. Those concerns would have been basis for intervention, the review said. Neveah might have been removed from her mother's care in time.

"They didn't do anything to help Neveah, and she was the one who needed it," Janet Gallegos said.

On Sept. 24, 2007, Miriam Gallegos returned to her Denver apartment after work and found her child dead. Instead of calling police, she helped Montoya stuff the girl's body into a garbage bag. Gallegos told police that Neveah had been kidnapped.

An autopsy report included three pages of traumatic injuries found on Neveah's 30-pound body. The coroner could not determine which of them led to her death.

"It's just the pain she went through. There's nothing I could do to make it better," Janet Gallegos said of her granddaughter. "I wish I could hold her and tell her it's OK. A tragedy like that you'll never get over."

Montoya, 26, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Miriam Gallegos, 24, pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Read the indictment

Read the Fatality Review

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