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The parents and grandma of an Arizona 6-year-old have been charged with murder after authorities said they admitted to keeping the young “malnourished” boy locked in a closet with his older brother.
Anthony Jose Archibeque-Martinez, 23, Elizabeth Archibeque-Martinez, 26, and Ann Marie Martinez, 50, have been charged with first-degree homicide and two counts of child abuse after Flagstaff police said the boy was found unresponsive at the family’s home Monday, according to a release from the department obtained by Oxygen.com.
Police were summoned to the home around 12:39 p.m. after receiving a call about an “unresponsive six-year-old male child.” Officers and medical personnel tried to perform life-saving measures on the boy after arriving at the home, but the child was later pronounced dead at the scene.
The young boy’s cause of death has not been announced by the medical examiner.
Police said the boy appeared “malnourished” and did not have the appearance of a typical 6-year-old, and his 7-year-old brother looked sickly as well.
During their investigation, detectives said the children’s parents admitted to keeping both boys in a bedroom closet and denying them food at times.
“Both admit that the two boys were kept in the closet because they were stealing food, by sneaking out at night when the parents slept,” the release said.
The children had allegedly been kept in the closet for about a month, authorities said.
The children’s grandmother, who lived at the home with the family, also allegedly told authorities she was aware the boys were kept in the closet and admitted to disciplining them when they stole food.
Sgt. Charles M. Hernandez II of the Flagstaff Police Department told Oxygen.com that the 7-year-old boy was transported to a medical center for emergency treatment. A 4-year-old and 2-year-old child who also lived in the home “did not exhibit signs of malnourishment,” Hernandez said.
The Department of Child Safety (DCS) has taken custody of all three surviving siblings.
“We can confirm the child’s siblings are currently in DCS care and are receiving the care and services necessary to help them during this difficult time,” DCS said in a statement to Oxygen.com.
It is not the department’s first contact with the family.
DCS was called to investigate “two allegations of abuse” to a sibling of the victim in February 2013.
“Both allegations were unsubstantiated,” the statement provided by Darren DaRonco, the department’s public information officer, said. “The parents agreed to participate voluntarily in-home services.”
They successfully completed the in-home services in July 2013 and the case was closed.
“Keeping children safe is the Department’s top priority,” the statement read. “However, DCS cannot investigate child abuse and neglect unless we receive a report from the community.”
Anyone who suspects a child is being abused or neglected is urged to contact their child welfare authorities.
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