New details in a horrific child abuse murder case emerged last week when court documents revealed that a Redmond, Oregon, couple, accused of abusing their adopted daughter to death, withheld food from her up until the point she died from malnourishment.
The Bend Bulletin reports that Estevan Garcia, 34, and Sacora Horn-Garcia, 31, were arrested on April 6 and charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal mistreatment, stemming from the December 22, 2016, death of Maliyha Hope Garcia, 5. According to Dr. Clifford Nelson, a deputy state medical examiner, Maliyha died from “an intentional lack of food and medical attention.”
According to text messages reportedly exchanged between the couple, they knew the severity of Maliyha’s condition, yet failed to get her medical treatment. They discussed taking the little girl to an emergency room shortly before she died, but ultimately decided against it.
“Would you feel scared taking her in to urgent care most likely they would just swab her nose to see if she has the flu,” Garcia texted to Horn-Garcia on December 21, 2016.
“I dont know,” Horn-Garcia responded back.
“To me urgent care is always less professorial like there doctors are always laid back,” Garcia replied. [sic]
“Alright. I think she def needs to go in today,” Horn-Garcia responded.
“Might be good to go down there with all the kids to show they are healthy,” Garcia replied back.
Later that day, emergency medical responders and Redmond police rushed over to the couple’s residence and found the little girl unconscious. Court documents indicate that her body was stiff and lying on the floor. Her face had a bluish tint. Horn-Garcia was in the process of giving Maliyha CPR when authorities arrived, but it was too late. The 5-year-old was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead on December 22.
Redmond Police officer Jered Kirk wrote that Maliyha was so malnourished that her “arms and legs looked like bones with skin hanging on them.”
Maliyha was Garcia’s adopted niece. The couple had been raising her since she was 3 months old, after her own mother lost custody due to a methamphetamine addiction. The pair had children of their own, none of which were starved or abused like Maliyha. Prosecutors allege that the abuse began not long after the girl started living with Garcia and Horn-Garcia. For years, they allegedly withheld food from her as punishment, while locking her away in her room. If she tried to escape her room, an alarm went off, alerting the couple.
According to witnesses, Garcia and Horn-Garcia would also force the child into cold showers and make her stand outside in the cold when she wet the bed. A teen who visited the home on occasion said that while the family would eat hot dogs, tacos, and nachos, Maliyha would get a salad only.
When she passed away, Maliyha weighed just 24 pounds, the typical weight of a 20-month-old toddler. Horn-Garcia claimed the child wasn’t eating due to the flu, but the medical examiner reported that the death was emaciation, caused by prolonged malnourishment.
Both Garcia and Horn-Garcia are behind bars at the Deschutes County Jail with no bond. Both suspects are scheduled to enter their pleas on June 12 at the Deschutes County Circuit Court.
[Feature Photo: Family Handout/ Deschutes County Jail]