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Victoria Martens, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was supposed to be celebrating her 10th birthday Wednesday, but instead police found her dismembered remains partially wrapped in a blanket and on fire in a bathtub.
The child’s mother, Michelle Martens, is being charged with the horrific murder along with her boyfriend, who was supposed to be under state supervision but wasn’t, and his cousin.
Martens told police her boyfriend drugged the child so he could rape her.
The police chief said the crime was “the most gruesome act of evil” he has ever seen.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She Is Charged With Viciously Killing Her Daughter With Her Boyfriend & His Cousin
Details of the unspeakable crime emerged Thursday after a criminal complaint was made public, the Associated Press reported.
The girl’s mother, Michelle Martens, 35, her 31-year-old boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, and his 31-year-old cousin, Jessica Kelley, are being charged with child abuse resulting in death, tampering with evidence and kidnapping. Kelley and Gonzales have also been charged with criminal sexual penetration of a minor.
Police say Victoria Martens was injected with methamphetamine, sexually assaulted, stabbed and strangled before being dismembered.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Martens told police she set up at least three sexual encounters and allowed the men to sexually assault her daughter. She said she met the men online or through work, and did it because she “enjoyed watching.”
“Michelle stated she watched this…happen for sexual gratification,” according to court documents.
A woman who knew Michelle and Victoria spoke out to KOB 4 in the video above. “She didn’t look good…she looked sick. And she just wasn’t excited to see me like she usually is,” Krystin Dowling told the station. “I would’ve never thought she would’ve been be a drug user, and I definitely never thought that she would have done that to her child. And it just breaks my heart that Victoria had to go through that,” she said through tears.
The father of Victoria Martens’ half-brother, Jason Oetting, spoke out about the tragedy for the first time through his attorney on Friday. Oetting helped raise Victoria “for a few years,” according to KOAT. Attorney William E. Hoskovec released the following statement to the station on Oetting’s behalf:
This tragedy has left my client in disbelief. He’s cooperating with investigators in every way in this matter. He is and will do everything he can do to protect his son.
She’s never been a monster, she got mixed up with the worst kind of people and that contributed to a downward spiral from what we can tell.
My client would also appreciate if his privacy could be respected.
Drug abuse and substance abuse had never been an issue, and Michelle seemed to be a normal person. The way the custody schedule was in place, Jason had their son on Tuesday night. It’s by the grace of God he wasn’t with Michelle that night.
2. The Police Chief Said It Was the ‘Most Gruesome Act of Evil’ He Has Ever Seen
A caller told a police dispatcher there was a disturbance in the apartment, Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden Jr. said in a press conference.
“This homicide is the most gruesome act of evil I have ever seen in my career,” Eden said. “A complete disregard of human life.”
“This is a horrific tragedy for our community,” Eden continued. “I want to assure the public that we will pursue justice and we will make sure that we exhaust every resource into this investigation.”
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) called the girl’s murder “atrocious.” According to KOAT, Martinez released the following statement:
There are no words that can convey the sorrow and sadness I feel for the innocent child who was killed in this atrocious attack. What happened to this little girl is unspeakable, and justice should come down like a hammer on the monster who committed this murder.
3. Gonzales Was Supposed to Be Under Supervision for Another Crime But Wasn’t & Denied Involvement With the Murder
Martens’ boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, said he had nothing to do with Victoria’s death as reporters yelled questions while he was led out of the police station in handcuffs, ABC News reported.
According to the criminal complaint, Gonzales and Martens met a month before the murder on the dating site Plenty of Fish. Michelle was currently working at a local grocery store, although she had worked at Walgreen’s in the past, said WSMV.
Martens wrote in her online profile that she was religious and “Looking for someone I can trust” and Gonzales said he has kids and does not like angry people, KRQE said.
Martens told police Gonzales drugged the child “so he could calm her down and have sex with her.” She said after Gonzales choked the child, Kelley held her hand over Victoria’s mouth and stabbed her, the criminal complaint stated.
Watch the video of Martens’ and Gonzales’ first court-appearance below:
Martens also told investigators that Gonzalez and Kelley dismembered Victoria, the complaint stated.
Online records state that Gonzales has faced multiple previous criminal charges dating back to 2004, including a felony child abuse charge in 2014. In addition, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor abandonment of a child in 2015.
WSMV said that Gonzales was supposed to be on probation supervision for a case in which he was arrested for “beating another woman in a car with a baby inside it while the woman was driving and ended up pleading no contest to two misdemeanor crimes that kept him out of jail.”
The Department of Corrections Officials told KRQE that they never received the documentation informing them that Gonzales was required to be under their supervision.
“We were not aware of this plea agreement until this morning it came to our attention, we never received the documentation to say that he had entered into this agreement,” New Mexico Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary of Administration Alex Sanchez told the station.
Court records show Gonzales’ cousin Kelley has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 2003. In 2012 she acted as a lookout while a woman allegedly raped another inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center. Records show she pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit criminal sexual penetration and was sentenced to three years in prison minus almost one year for time served.
Online records show no criminal history for Martens in New Mexico.
4. The Victim Was Getting Ready to Celebrate Her 10th Birthday
A birthday party had been planned for Victoria Wednesday afternoon when she was supposed to return home from school, Laura Bobbs, a local minister, told the Albuquerque Journal. Bobbs, whose two granddaughters grew up playing with the girl, said she planned the party and they were supposed to have manicures and pedicures and eat cake.
“They cried and the first thing they asked me was, ‘Why was God not protecting her?'” Bobbs told the publication. “And I didn’t know what to say.”
“I am hurting so much right now,” she said.
Albuquerque Public Schools published the following statement on their webpage August 25:
Our hearts ache today for little Victoria and all who love her including her classmates and the staff and families at Petroglyph Elementary. We cherish and protect our students and, like the rest of Albuquerque, are having a hard time wrapping our heads around the fact that someone could treat one of them so horrifically. Victoria is in our thoughts and prayers as we hold our children just a little tighter on this sad day.
“What happened to this little girl is horrific. It’s one of the worst things I’ve read in my entire life,” Albuquerque police spokesman Tanner Tixier said in a news conference.
“I can’t speak to what this mother was planning for her child other than the horrific events that happened to this child. I would find it hard to believe that she was planning a birthday party for this child,” Tixier said.
Victoria turned 10 the day before she was murdered, according to KOB 4.
5. Her Bail Is Set at $1 Million
A judge ordered bail to be set at $1 million, cash only, for Martens and Gonzales at their first court appearance Thursday.
Many have taken to Martens’ Facebook page to express their outrage.
Shelby Huffman commented on one of Martens’ photos:
You don’t deserve forgiveness, you deserve to live the pain your daughter went through and some. Whether you were drugged out or not you watched and you let it happen. You don’t deserve to be a mother clearly you didn’t love your daughter to have let this go on. Your daughter’s bloods on your hands, Karmas a bit**!
“What were you saying to your daughter as your boyfriend and his cousin were torturing her? I hope you burn in hell for all eternity. And soon,” Linda Threet stated.
*This story is being updated as information becomes available.