A pair of New Mexico caregivers have been charged with torturing a disabled autistic woman who died just weeks after cops found her badly abused and in tears in a van headed toward the Mexican border, prosecutors said.
Mary Melero, 38, was so battered that she couldn’t stand and was unresponsive when she was found on Feb. 23 in Texas near the US border.
She died at an area hospital on April 7, New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez said at a press conference last week.
“In my nearly 20 years as a prosecutor, I can tell you without question that the injuries that Mary endured, that the harm that was inflicted upon her was nothing sort of torture,” Torrez said.
“She had multiple bed sores and pressure wounds that were so severe there were even exposed bones,” he said. “There were marks and abrasions and ligature marks that indicated that she had in fact been restrained at some point.”
On Wednesday, Angelita Chacon, 52, and Patricia Hurtado, 42, were charged with abuse, neglect, false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit false imprisonment and failure to report, USA Today reported.
Luz Scott, 53, who was driving the van, was charged with false imprisonment and conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, the outlet reported.
Torrez said that Chacon was paid about $5,000 a month to care for Melero through the state-funded At Home Advocacy program, which is designed to provide home care for the disabled.
Chacon lived in Melero’s home in Rio Rancho near Albuquerque.
She told police that Melero had spent three days in a bathtub in her own feces and urine — and admitted that she smashed the victim in the face by throwing a portable stereo back at her.
Chacon and Hurtado were in a romantic relationship and shared caregiver duties, and listed Scott to drive Melero to Mexico, presumably for medical care, according to a court affidavit obtained by USA Today.
Authorities said Melero was weeping when she was found wrapped in a blanket on the floor of the van with dirty bandages covering her open wounds.
She was admitted to a hospital in El Paso suffering from pneumonia and later died there.
State Health Secretary Patrick Allen called the case “the worst breach of trust DOH has ever seen.”
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