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Grandmother, parents indicted after malnourished 6-year-old boy, forced in closet for ‘stealing’ food, dies

The parents and grandmother of an Arizona boy who died earlier this month have been indicted on murder charges, AP reports.

On Thursday, a grand jury indicted Elizabeth Archibeque, 26, Anthony Martinez, 23, and the boy’s grandmother, 50-year-old Ann Marie Martinez, on charges of first-degree murder, child abuse and kidnapping. Anthony Martinez is also facing aggravated assault charges.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Flagstaff authorities responded to a home at 12:39 p.m. on March 2, after Ann Marie Martinez called 911 about an unresponsive boy. Firefighters pronounced the boy, 6, dead at the scene after they couldn’t revive him.

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Although the child had no signs of physical trauma, officials said he looked smaller than his age and appeared malnourished.

“The physical appearance of the six-year old child did not compliment his age, appearing malnourished,” the police report read.

The child’s parents allegedly admitted they kept him and his 7-year-old brother inside a closet in a bedroom and sometimes withheld food. The parents said they put the children in the closet to punish them for sneaking in the kitchen and stealing food at night.

According to police, the boys were placed in the closet at around 8 p.m. at night, then let out around noon the following day. They were not enrolled in the local public school district, according to FOX 10.

A card from the Flagstaff Police Department is attached to a bouquet of flowers at a memorial site for a 6-year-old boy in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Police have arrested the boy’s parents and grandmother on suspicion of murder and child abuse in the boy’s death. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

Ann Marie Martinez allegedly admitted that she knew her grandsons were being held in a closet but claimed that she didn’t do anything wrong.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen just trying to help grandkids not be in the streets,” she said during jail video, according to the Associated Press.

Anthony Martinez reportedly became volatile after his arrest. He arrived at the Coconino County jail in a wheelchair with this ankles shackled and his hands handcuffed behind his back. Authorities said he screamed profanities at them during the booking process and acted belligerently.

Anthony Martinez, Elizabeth Archibeque, and Ann Marie Martinez [Police Handout]
All three suspects remain behind bars on a $3 million cash-only bond, each.

Meanwhile, the 7-year-old, who also showed signs of malnutrition, is said to be doing better. The 7-year-old and two younger siblings that also lived in the home, ages four and two, are now in the care of the Department of Child Safety.

“We can confirm the child’s siblings are currently in DCS care and are receiving the care and services necessary to help them during this difficult time,” a Department of Child Safety spokesperson said earlier this month.

According to the Daily Beast, DCS had previously been to the home in 2013 on “two allegations of abuse” involving some of the children. The case was closed in 2013 after the parents “agreed to participate in voluntary in-home services.”

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[AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca]