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Las Cruces mother faces child abuse charges after children test positive for meth

Ashley Thurman is charged with two counts of child abuse not resulting in death or great bodily harm. The charges are both third-degree felony counts and are the same charges levied against her boyfriend, 22-year-old Eddie Castillo

A Las Cruces mother of three children was arrested Tuesday and faces the same child abuse charges as her live-in boyfriend.

Ashley Thurman, 29, of the 1900 block of Colorado Avenue, was charged with two counts of child abuse not resulting in death or great bodily harm.

Her 22-year-old boyfriend, Eddie Castillo, is facing child abuse charges after the completion of an investigation into drug use and child abuse in the home in which he lived.

Castillo was taken into custody after an 8-month-old and his 8-year-old sibling tested positive for methamphetamine, according to court documents obtained by KFOX14.

The day care that three siblings -- ages 8 months, 6 years and 8 years -- attended became suspicious about their welfare, the documents stated.

The children all lived with Castillo, who was dating their mother, Ashley Thurman.

Caregivers at Children’s Playhouse Daycare told investigators from the Las Cruces Police Department and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department that they had concerns for the children after the baby, when dropped off at the day care, appeared dirty, had a foul odor and was wearing inadequate clothing, the documents said. On several occasions, the baby had no shoes or jacket during the cold months, according to the documents.

While at the day care, the two older siblings role-played ordering drugs over the phone, a day care employee told investigators.

The document stated that a police detective and a CYFD investigator went to the children's home in the 900 block of East Madrid Avenue and conducted a walk-through.

The document also stated that the apartment was dirty and messy with inadequate living conditions. Marijuana was found on top of the television in the children's bedroom and a clear meth pipe was found in a laundry basket on the children's bed. The document also stated that investigators found meth pipes in a box in the front yard and a meth pipe on a table inside the home.

In addition, the document stated that drug tests were performed on the mother and the three children. Results showed that the 8-month-old and the 8-year-old tested positive for methamphetamine.

The CYFD investigator interviewed the two older children. They told the investigator that Castillo smoked marijuana inside the home. They said Castillo was known to do drugs with his friends outside and inside the trailer when their mother was at the store or donating plasma. Both siblings said they were afraid of Castillo because he had slapped one of them in the face recently.

During an interview, Castillo admitted to investigators that he smoked marijuana and smoked cigarettes, but denied smoking or using meth. He also admitted to kicking the 8-year-old. He told investigators he had anger-management issues and was under the influence of alcohol when he kicked the child. Castillo told investigators he needed drug and anger counseling so he could change his life.

KFOX14 Local spoke Tuesday with Jardin de los Niños executive director Audrey Hartley.

Hartley said just being around drugs can have harmful effects on children.

With meth, “To the kids there will be obviously some physical ramifications. They will experience withdrawal, they could experience brain damage, depending on how much is being used,” Hartley said.

Hartley also said children who are torn away from their families may develop certain health issues.

“That creates social anxiety, separation anxiety. You don’t know where the parents are going, 99 time out of 100 they are in jail and there’s no determination as to when they will get out,” Hartley said.

She also added that it’s important for people to report any red flags they notice in a child’s behavior.

“The day care workers that reported the situation acted very appropriately. My staff and I have been discussing this and we all agree it’s time to do another training because you have to be vigilant,” Hartley said.

Thurman and Castillo were booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center, where they are initially being held without bond.

The arrest report said she was gone when Castillo would use drugs around the children.

The children are in the custody of other family members, according to the document.

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