A 39-year-old woman and her 17-year-old boyfriend were arrested after two children who were in their care were found dead inside of a storage unit. The alleged abuse began in Salinas, California, just over 100 miles south of San Francisco. Tami Joy Huntsman, 39, and Gonzalo Curiel, 17, were both arrested on December 11. Their arrests came after police found a 9-year-old girl injured and malnourished inside of a parked car. That girl was also in the care of Huntsman. Later that day, police were led to a storage facility in Redding, California, which is 300 miles north of Salinas. Inside one of the storage units, cops found the dead bodies of Delylah Tara, 3, and Shaun Tara, 6. They had been there for more than a week and were in the legal custody of Huntsman at the time of their deaths. Huntsman was not their mother. Police have not elaborated further on why Huntsman had custody of the kids.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Pair Are Accused of Child Abuse, Torture & Mayhem, With Murder Charges Likely to Follow
The Plumas County News reported that the couple are being held on a $1 million bail each. The charges against them include felony child abuse, torture, and mayhem. Murder charges are likely to follow, according to local authorities. Police in Redding, California, said in a statement that the couple had “physical custody of two juveniles that have been reported as missing persons.” Speaking to the Daily Beast, Sheriff Greg Hagwood said:
There are people in our world that are capable of horrible acts of evil, and for anybody that sees something that isn’t right … say something. I’m very grateful that the 9-year-old girl is alive.
She probably would have died of her conditions in very short order had she not been discovered. … To treat small children in such a barbaric fashion, it’s beyond anything that reasonable people can even begin to understand.
The 9-year-old girl who triggered the murder investigation is Huntsman’s niece, reports the Plumas County News. That victim’s mother died two years ago, which is when she moved in with Huntsman. Hagwood told the Daily Beast that someone who came in contact with the 9-year-old alerted police about probable abuse at the home. Her injuries included missing and loose teeth, broken bones in her shoulder, broken fingers and a dislocated jaw. She weighed around 40 pounds when she was found.
2. It Was Curiel Who Told Police Where to Find Delylah & Shaun
According to the Plumas County News, Curiel, who is being charged as an adult, was co-operative with police and told them where to find the two deceased children. Huntsman is not co-operating with police.
3. On Facebook, Huntsman Describes Her Job as ‘Being the Best Mom I Can Be’
On her Facebook page, Huntsman says that she’s worked at “Being the best mom I can be” since August 1994. She showcases her dedication to parenting with a profile photo showing her smiling with a little blond girl who is also smiling. In the About section of her page, she writes, “I love being with my kids and my family.” KSBW reports that in 2013 she sued her former husband, Chris Criswell, for child support. After news of the arrests broke, Criswell wrote on his Facebook page, “I am sick and numb… for the loss of two beautiful babys. I hope to get the twins wednesday please don’t call me I don’t want to talk I LOVE U ALL.”
4. Her Brother Was Indicted in 2014 for Setting a Fire That Destroyed Homes & Spread Across Nearly 100,000 Acres
Huntsman is the sister of Wayne Allan Huntsman. In December 2014, he was indicted for arson in relation to the King forest fire. The Los Angeles Times reports that the fire burned for a month, destroying 80 buildings, including homes. The blaze spread across 97,000 acres.
NBC Bay Area reports that the fire cost around $5 million a day. At the time of her brother’s arrest, Huntsman told KSBW, “I’m devastated, in shock, I can’t believe that he would ever have anything to do with something like that or that he would do anything intentionally like that.”
5. Police Say Huntsman & Curiel Have Been Traveling Around Lately & the Public’s Help Is Needed to Fill in the Gaps
In a statement, police in Redding said that since the end of November, Huntsman and Curiel have been moving around the northern California area. Cops say that the traveling included a stay in Redding, where the Tara siblings were found dead. Authorities are urging anybody with knowledge of their movements to get in contact.
KSBW reports that Huntsman has previously been investigated for alleged child abuse.