- Associated Press - Thursday, March 14, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico authorities are investigating after an infant died while in the custody of a foster family that was caring for the child following the arrest of his parents on charges related to the death of one of their other children.

Albuquerque police responded Thursday after the boy was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Authorities said the child belonged to Monique Romero and David Zuber. They were arrested in early January and their remaining children were placed in the custody of the state Children, Youth and Families Department after the couple admitted to burying their 1-year-old daughter in a backyard.

Zuber, 26, and Romero, 23, were released after a judge declined a request by prosecutors to hold them pending trial.

State spokesman Tripp Stelnicki called the case tragic. He confirmed the latest death occurred while the boy was being cared for by foster parents.

“CYFD is taking every precaution to ensure the case is properly and thoroughly investigated,” he said in an email.

Albuquerque police are working the case along with the child welfare agency.

Relatives of Zuber told investigators in December that the family had disappeared and that Zuber had made claims about their daughter drowning in a bath tub.

During a subsequent welfare check, Romero told an officer that the girl was with a relative.

In early January, police asked the public for help in finding the family, believing the girl was in danger. The family was located two days later at home in northeast Albuquerque and the girl’s body was found buried in the backyard of another home.

According to court documents, Romero told investigators she did not call for help when she found the girl dead in the bathtub with her 2-year-old sibling after leaving them alone.

Romero told police Zuber took the child’s body and left. He returned later and told her “it was taken care of,” according to a criminal complaint.

It’s unclear what happened between the Dec. 18 welfare check and Jan. 2, when police issued the missing person’s bulletin. Police Chief Mike Geier launched an internal affairs investigation to determine whether policies were followed, including new policies for handling child abuse reports.

The state has been rocked in recent years by several high-profile cases involving child abuse and even death, resulting in continued criticism of the state welfare agency despite efforts to keep cases from falling through the cracks and provide more assistance for at-risk families.

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