A New Mexico couple was arrested Friday after their missing 1-year-old daughter’s body was found buried in a backyard.
Per the Albuquerque Journal, David Zuber, 26, and Monique Romero, 23, were charged with child abuse resulting in the death of their daughter, Anastazia Zuber, who was reported missing on Wednesday. The toddler’s body was reportedly found weeks after police conducted a welfare check on December 18, unaware of her death.
KRQE previously reported that David Zuber told his mother on December 18 that his daughter drowned in a bathtub. According to a criminal complaint obtained by KOB, the father told others that Anastazia was alive and staying with relatives.
On Wednesday, authorities said they were looking for the family as they were unsure whether the toddler was alive or dead.
Citing police, the news station later reported that officers found the couple and their two children—without Anastazia—at an Albuquerque home on Friday.
“It’s tough for detectives to go out to a location, dig a hole and find a dead baby in a bag and then have to build a case around it…just horrible.”
Romero allegedly told police that Anastazia drowned at an Albuquerque apartment last month while alone in the tub with a sibling. Her father reportedly confessed to burying her and authorities went to the location given by her father to exhume her body, according to the Journal.
It’s currently unclear where officers found Anastazia’s body or when her death occurred. The Journal indicated that the toddler was buried at a different location from where her mother allegedly claimed she died. Moreover, KRQE reported that her body wasn’t found at the Albuquerque home where officers located her family last week.
“It’s tough for detectives to go out to a location, dig a hole and find a dead baby in a bag and then have to build a case around it—just horrible,” Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Simon Drobik said.
Officers conducting the December 18 welfare check spoke with Romero, who at the time reportedly claimed the toddler was with her aunt.
Following the discovery of Anastazia’s body, police spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos announced that Chief Mike Geier has launched an internal investigation “to determine whether policies were followed, including new policies that the Chief ordered for the handling of reports of child abuse,” according to KRQE.
The deceased toddler’s father is also facing tampering with evidence charges. Drobik said an autopsy’s being performed to determine her cause of death.
New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department has custody of the couple’s two children, Drobik said.
[Featured Image: David Zuber, Anastazia Zuber, and Monique Romero/Albuquerque Police Department]