The 2-year-old and his baby sister were found dead and strapped in their car seats after their mother called 911 on Monday and asked for help.
But the question, the colonel, Ariz A day later, Ensley was not concerned with the way the children died or the motive of the city's first murder investigation for nearly a decade.
What frustrated him most, he told reporters, was what he saw as clear signs of the children
Her mother, 20-year-old Brittany Velasquez, her relatives and friends said she had been dealing with drug addiction for years mental health problems, is charged with double murder. It was known that she disappeared, leaving her children ̵
But in a press conference on Tuesday, Ensley was not ready to blame them
"I can speak for my [department]," he said. "We are a dedicated, very skilled group of individuals and [we] will do the right things."
"As far as other state entities, I can not speak for what they did or did not do." It was a false alarm – the coat was in the house all the time – but the relatives wanted to know something else as well: She was tired of looking after Velasquez's two small children.
Velasquez would disappear for days, the relative said, leaving her children in the care of increasingly frustrated family members.
Brittany Velasquez. (Pinal County Sheriff's Office, via AP)
The officer followed with Child Protection Services, a state agency. And based on what officers in the narrow city said, Ensley felt there was a real danger to the children that needed to be addressed.
"This is a small community, we know Brittany," Ensley said of the 3,000-person city that was built around a now-defunct copper mine 60 miles east of Phoenix. "For the past two years, we've probably responded to her at home, in her home, seven or eight times at different occasions."
Some of them were drugs. Velasquez struggled with drug addiction and had mental health problems, reported the Phoenix ABC affiliate KNVX-TV, and the child's father had died from an overdose a year ago.
A reporter at the press conference asked if Ensley was frustrated, he learned that the child safety department had decided not to remove the children or take any other action.
"Was that frustrating, yes," he said. "This is a serious incident, it's a small community, it rocked absolutely Superior, the last murder on this scale was eight or nine years ago, people occasionally die here in car crashes."
The Arizona Department of Child Safety defended In a statement on his website:
DCS had never taken custody of the children and the children were not housed with their grandparents. In both reports, there was no evidence that the mother abused or neglected her children.
While there were concerns about Ms. Velasquez's previous mental health, no one pointed out that Ms. Velasquez's mental health problems were hampered by any evidence of her ability to be a parent.
We understand that these types of tragic events cause emotional reactions; We also feel pain when children are suffering. However, we can only make decisions based on the evidence available and what the law allows. The department acted in good faith on the basis of the information we received and exercised our due diligence on these earlier investigations.
The Department said that she received a total of two reports on the children of Velasquez. The first was on October 6, 2016, when someone said Velasquez had left her child with her mother, who was too old to look after the child. The unit was contacted again in January because Velasquez had left her children with her mother without adequate care.
Both claims, according to the department, are "unfounded and closed."
Other questions about the moments that led to the children deaths remained unanswered on Wednesday.
Ensley said Velasquez had walked out of the house for 12 hours, apparently because she was working. Velasquez discovered that her children were unresponsive and tried to resuscitate her. When the police arrived, several relatives were in the house, but it was unclear whether they were responsible for caring for the children. The police did not want to say why the kids were found strapped to their seats in the car.
Ensley hinted that Velasquez may have just moved to a house of his own.
Despite repeated allegations of neglect, Velasquez's portrayal of her family on Facebook was rosy. She had published several pictures of her little family filled with emoji.
In May, she released a photo of a Brooklyn sonogram: "Only 21 days left to meet you ! June 10 is your expected arrival! 1965 "
On another published Facebook photo, apparently a professional portrait, she showed that she has a child in each arm, her son in a plaid shirt, her daughter in one a pink flower decorated hair band.
"I can not be perfect," read the caption, "but when I look at my children, I know I've done something right in my life! ❤ Happy Fall!"
But even in darker times there were public messages.
In June, shortly after Brooklyn's birth, her father died. Velasquez asked a GoFundMe for donations. He left behind his wife, an 8 year old daughter, a 1½ year old son and a 2 week old baby. He was loved by many and that is very devastating for us all. Please donate each donation from his family and children. "
Less than a year later there was another GoFundMe, that of Velazquez's sister Amber.
He was entitled" Funeral for infants and toddlers.
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