- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Another report has surfaced about past police calls to the home of a woman accused of kicking her 9-year-old son to death.

Albuquerque police Wednesday said they found a report from Dec. 24, 2012, showing an officer was dispatched to a wireless telephone store after a man reported report seeing Synthia Varela-Casaus punch her then 8-year-old son Omaree Varela in the stomach.

It’s the third contact police say they have found between officers and the boy, whose death has raised concerns about the handling of past abuse claims against Varela-Casaus and over staffing levels at the Children, Youth and Families Department, the state agency that investigates child abuse allegations.

Last week, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry appointed a special task force to investigate the case of the 9-year-old, who was found unresponsive at the family home Dec. 27.

Varela-Casaus, 38, initially told police her son injured himself falling off of a bouncing toy horse. She later admitted to getting angry and kicking the child.

One year earlier, according to the just released police report, the officer responding to the wireless store said several employees reported seeing Varela-Casaus slap the boy, but he couldn’t find any witnesses to corroborate allegations the boy was punched in the stomach. The officer says the boy told him he had been misbehaving but that his mother didn’t hit him. And the officer reported neither he nor paramedics could find evidence of injuries, and the store’s surveillance video was inconclusive.

The officer did, however, say he reported the allegations to the APD Crimes Against Children Unit and the Children Youth and Families Department, which two months earlier had been alerted to possible abuse by the boy’s school.

CYFD spokesman Henry Varela said Wednesday the agency conducted a full investigation after receiving the officer’s report. Following a home visit and interviews, the agency came to the same conclusions as police.

An Albuquerque police spokeswoman said the report was found as part of a full background search for any and all APD calls involving Varela.

Last week, two officers were placed on administrative leave after it was discovered that they went to the boy’s home in June to respond to a 911 call in which a dispatcher overheard threatening, profane and abusive comments. Police Chief Allen Banks says the officers were at the home for only 15 or 20 minutes but didn’t report leaving the scene until about 90 minutes later. They also failed to file a report on the matter.

CYFD officials have said they did not have any active cases involving the family at the time of the boy’s death.

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