Seven Phoenix-Area Parents Arrested on Child-Abuse Charges Over the Weekend

Seven parents were arrested this weekend on felony child-abuse charges in the Phoenix area, which is an unusually high number of arrests.

Based on county booking records, there were 13 child-abuse arrests in the entire month of February, and 18 in March, an average of roughly one child-abuse arrest every other day. Read on for more information about this weekend's cases:

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Police went to the home of 30-year-old Victor Adams and 23-year-old Carolyn Walker on Sunday evening in response to a neighbor's call about a fight.

According to court documents, the responding officer saw inside the home, near 69th and Glendale avenues, when Walker answered the door, and he and other officers went inside to check the welfare of everyone, including three children.

". . . Myself and other officers immediately smelled the pungent odor of rotten food, human feces, human urine, and dog feces and urine," the arresting officer writes in a probable-cause statement. "Upon clearing the entire home, there was mud, tomato sauce, and feces scattered on the tile flooring . . . Human feces was also scattered on the home's drywall in the master bedroom and hallway . . . The master bedroom toilet had been defecated in and not flushed with the toilet itself being completely brown with no white porcelain to be seen, as if it had not been cleaned in months."

Police also found garbage throughout the home, and nothing edible for the children. According to court documents, dirt was the only thing in the refrigerator.

Officers found Adams hiding under a pile of clothes in the master bedroom. Child Protective Services workers responded to the home, and immediately took custody of the children after going inside the home.

Adams and Walker were arrested on child-abuse and neglect charges. According to court documents, the couple had been investigated by CPS on three separate occasions in 2012 and 2013 for deplorable living conditions.

The parents of a 1-year-old Phoenix girl were arrested after police discovered the girl's father allegedly had bitten her and ripped out her hair.

The parents of the 18-year-old mother, Sandy Aranda, called police on Saturday after not seeing their granddaughter for a while.

According to court documents, police went to check the child's welfare at the home, near 39th Avenue and Buckeye Road. Police immediately noticed the child's injuries, including the bite marks, and sought medical treatment.

Court documents indicate Zuniga admitted to abusing the girl. According to the documents, Zuniga admitted to pulling out her hair, biting her on the face and legs, and slapping her on the mouth because she was crying. He also admitted to hiding the girl from other family members so they didn't see the injuries.

Additionally, the arresting officer wrote the following in a probable-cause statement: "During the interview with [Zuniga], while describing to police when he was biting the victim, [Zuniga] began to laugh."

Aranda admitted knowing about the abuse, but told police that she didn't call anyone for help because she didn't want her daughter "to be without a father," court documents state. She also was scared that she might be jailed over an incident in which she hit Zuniga with a glass bottle, she told police.

Both parents, Zuniga and Aranda, were booked into jail on child-abuse charges.

An employee of a shopping center near 43rd Avenue and Cactus Road called Phoenix police on Friday to report that a woman and small child were panhandling in the parking lot of a Fry's grocery store.

According to court documents, 28-year-old Caltalin Marin admitted to using his wife and 5-year-old child "as sympathy" to beg for money and food. Turns out, police had been called to this exact situation last month, and another employee of the shopping center said they're out there all the time.

Police noted that the shopping center is very close to a main intersection, and there have been calls of fights, car accidents, and violations of orders of protection in this parking lot, leading them to believe a 5-year-old shouldn't be out there by himself begging for money for his father.

Marin was arrested on a felony count of child neglect, while his wife was not arrested, although she's considered a suspect. Police believe Marin is in the country illegally from Romania.

On Friday, police in Mesa were called to some sort of a disturbance at an apartment near University Drive and Power Road, for the second time that day.

The first time, 39-year-old Kendra Drake and her 13-year-old daughter told police told police everything was fine. During the second visit from police, a few hours later, the 13-year-old girl "broke down crying and told me that her mother had hit her in the face with the leather belt but did not want to get her mother in trouble," according to court documents.

Police say the girl had bruises and marks on her face and chest.

Drake told police it was an accident, that she'd been hitting her on the backside with the belt when she fell, and accidentally struck her in the face.

Drake was booked into jail on a felony count of child abuse.

A school principal in Mesa called police to report a 6-year-old student with bruises on his neck and back.

The boy, who asked the school nurse for ice and was in pain, told police his mother had hit him with a belt, according to court documents.

Court documents state that the mother, 26-year-old Tayah Jones, admitted to hitting the boy with a purse strap, and said she probably did it fewer than 20 times.

The boy said she held him down by the head while hitting him, and didn't know how many times she did it, but said it was "a lot," according to court documents.

Jones was booked into jail on a child-abuse charge.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley