Las Cruces mother arrested after kids found knocking on neighbors' doors
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KFOX14) —
A Las Cruces mother was charged with intentional child abuse after her children were knocking on neighbors' doors looking for her, police said.
Cynthia Jimenez, 33, had been drinking beer Wednesday afternoon, police said. That night, Jimenez left her apartment and left her 7-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter in the care of their grandmother who was intoxicated, police said.
The children sneaked out of the apartment and began knocking on neighbors' doors, asking for a ride to where their mother might be, police said.
Officers were called to the apartment complex on the 1200 block of Monte Vista Avenue around 2 a.m. when a man found the children.
Officers obtained Jimenez’s cellphone number and called her. She returned to the apartment after 2 a.m. but was too drunk to provide further information, police said.
She was arrested and charged with two third-degree felony counts of intentional child abuse.
The children were wandering along the same street where a drive-by shooting claimed the life of 14-year-old Jocelyn Trujillo just two weeks ago.
KFOX14 spoke with neighbors about what they saw. One woman who didn’t want to be identified said the little girl came to her door asking for help hours before the police were called.
“I was in my room it was probably around 11:30 or 12, I didn't really look at the time, but the doorbell rang and I thought who could be at the door at that time at night,” the woman said.
The little girl initially told the woman she was home alone but then said her grandmother was there. The girl asked for a ride to somewhere her mother might be.
“I told her, ‘I'm sorry I just can't give you a ride,’ and she said, ‘OK’ and then she went back home,” the woman said.
The woman says she has seen the kids around the neighborhood frequently and says they’re good kids. She didn’t see any indications they were ever neglected. But she was worried about their safety that night.
“This is a really dark neighborhood there are only a couple of street lights on it I was worried about that,” she said.
The children have been turned over to the custody of child protective services.
“When law enforcement put the children in our custody, usually that's for an initial 48 hours,” said Henry Varela, communications director of the Children, Youth and Families Department.
CYFD first looks for a place among the family to place the children safely and if they cannot find anyone, the kids will be put in a home with a CYFD foster family. The agency will then conduct an investigation of its own to try to find out if the kids are in any danger with their own families.
“If we find that there are safety concerns with the primary caregiver, we can petition the court for additional custody,” Varela said. “Our main concern is going to be the health and safety of the children that are in our custody.”
KFOX14 asked the Las Cruces Police Department whether the grandmother will face any charges. A spokesperson said the woman had not been arrested but the investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible.
Jimenez was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center where she’s initially being held without bail.