Star-Telegram, November 25, 1998

Couple indicted on charges of abusing 2 boys in their care
By Gabrielle Crist, Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH -- A Fort Worth man and his wife were indicted yesterday on child abuse charges after investigators discovered that two boys in their care were so badly beaten and malnourished that they looked like "concentration camp victims."

Juan Puentes, 32, and his 27- year-old wife, Gina Madrid, were each indicted on two counts of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury. If convicted, they face up to life in prison.

The boys, ages 8 and 10, were removed from the home and are staying with a relative. Two other children in the home, a boy and girl whose ages were unavailable, have also been removed and are living with another relative.

Child Protective Services received an anonymous call in September saying the boys had been seen eating out of a trash can in the lunchroom at their elementary school, according to the couple's arrest warrant affidavits. The boys were examined at a hospital, where the 10-year-old told police that he and his younger brother "get into trouble almost every day and their father spanks them," the arrest affidavits state. The skin on the children's buttocks was leathered from the beatings, said Sgt. Jeff Valmores, head of the crimes against children unit. The boys also had injuries on their lower backs and abdomens, he said.

Investigators said Madrid, the boy's stepmother, would tell Puentes what punishment the boys deserved when he returned home from work each day. "If they were caught stealing food out the refrigerator, she would take note of that," Valmores said.

In addition to new and old bruises from beatings with a belt, the children had marks "where both she and the father pinched really hard," Valmores said.

The children were so malnourished "they kind of reminded me of the concentration camp victims," Valmores said. "It was very disappointing to see them in that state."

The children's living conditions were "deplorable," Valmores said. The home was filthy and had no running water, and cockroaches were everywhere, he said.

Gabrielle Crist, (817) 390-7662

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