Mercadies Irene Williams and her boyfriend, Ramon Alberto Zendejas, both 25, were arrested and charged with child endangerment after investigators discovered they had been keeping their two baby boys in cribs that deputies had described as looking like “dog crates.” But the Modoc County District Attorney disagreed with that sentiment and has dropped the child endangerment charges.
The Modoc County Sheriff’s Office showed pictures of the cribs, which were stacked on top of each other and secured to the wall. This set-up was found at the couple’s home in Tulelake, California on Friday, April 19. Tulelake is located in northern California, about three miles south of Oregon.
Sheriff William Dowdy said that deputies had a search warrant for the house to look for illegal firearms, and found the toddlers in the cribs.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Deputies Found Two Baby Boys In Cribs That Had Been Stacked Against the Wall; Modoc County Child Protective Services Took Custody of the Children
Ramon Zendejas and Mercadies Williams were accused by the Modoc County Sherrif’s department of keeping their children locked up in a bedroom like animals. The department released two pictures from the scene, which you can see above.
In one picture, you can see that the two cribs have been stacked on top of each other like crates. The cribs are pushed against a wall that has a slanted ceiling. In the second photo, you can see that the cribs had been secured to the wall with a lock.
The two boys were in the cribs when the deputies arrived at the house. Modoc County Child Protective Services took custody of them. Based on pictures from Williams’ Facebook page, the twin boys are younger than 2 years old.
2. Deputies Suspected Williams & Zendejas Had Illegal Weapons Inside the Home & Obtained a Warrant to Search the House
Deputies with the Modoc County Sheriff’s office were dispatched to the home of Mercadies Williams and Ramon Zendejas on April 19, but not to investigate potential crimes against children.
Sheriff Dowdy said in a news release that the original case was about illegal firearms. Deputies had a warrant to search the house for weapons. Officers from the Malin Police Department and the California Highway Patrol were also present for the search.
Several items were seized from the home. Investigators found three firearms, ammunition, suspected methamphetamine and “evidence of a butane honey oil lab.”
3. Williams & Zendejas Initially Faced Multiple Charges But the Prosecutor Decided to Drop the Child Endangerment Charge & Said the Situation Had Been Overblown
Ramon Zendejas and Mercadies Williams were arrested and faced several charges that included:
• Child endangerment
• Prohibited person in possession of firearms
• Prohibited person in possession of ammunition
Child endangerment can either be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor in California, depending on whether the child was harmed or put at immediate risk of harm. If investigators rule that the child was not in imminent danger, the charge would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail if convicted. Under California law, an adult can be convicted of child endangerment if they are proven to have:
• Caused or permitted a minor to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering
• Willfully caused or permitted a minor to be injured
• Willfully caused or permitted a minor to be placed in a dangerous situation
But District Attorney Sam Kyllo made the decision that the children were never in danger. He released a statement, published by KRCR-TV, that read, “There’s no kids in cages and it’s not a child endangerment case. They’re cribs, you can buy them on Amazon.”
Kyllo added that he will be pursuing charges for possession of methamphetamine, but not for the butane honey oil lab. We have reached out to the Modoc County District Attorney’s office to ask about the weapons charges.
4. The Judge Set Bail at $10,000 For Both Suspects But Williams Was Released On Her Own Recognizance
Mercadies Williams and Ramon Zendejas were arrested on April 19 and booked into the Modoc County Jail around 3 p.m. The Modoc County Sheriff’s department stated that bail was set at $10,000 for each of them.
Williams was released without needing to pay for the bail. Inmate records show she was released on her own recognizance.
As of April 24, Zendejas remained behind bars.
5. Mercadies Williams Works For the Department of Agriculture, According to Her Facebook Page, & Has An Older Daughter
Mercadies Williams uses the last name Zendejas on her Facebook page. The Modoc County Sheriff’s office identified them as boyfriend and girlfriend. But Ramon Zendejas states on his Facebook page that they got married in December of 2018.
Based on pictures, the couple is also raising a young daughter. A friend commented on one of the photos that the little girl looks like Williams.
Williams has been working for the Department of Agriculture since 2016, according to her Facebook page. She attended Tulelake High School and also listed that she attended Klamath Community College in 2013.