ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE/CNN) - Police have charged the parents of a 1-year-old girl in her death, after the girl’s father claimed he had drowned her and the girl’s mother said she had been left in a bathtub unsupervised.
The family members of 1-year-old Anastazia Zuber described her as a joy to be around, constantly smiling and showing off her bright blue eyes.
Anastazia’s parents, 23-year-old Monique Romero and 26-year-old David “DJ” Zuber, were arrested Friday and charged with child abuse resulting in death after the little girl’s father told police where the child’s body had been buried, according to a criminal complaint.
"It's tough for detectives to go out to a location, dig a hole, find a dead baby in a bag and then have to build a case around that. It's horrible. So, I would ask the public to think about that child,” said Officer Simon Drobik with the Albuquerque Police Department.
The case began on Dec. 18 when Zuber disclosed to his mother he drowned Anastazia in an apartment bathtub. The mother told police, prompting a welfare check by officers that same day.
Officers did not locate the child but, according to a criminal complaint, they were told by Romero that the girl “was with her aunt.”
It’s unclear what happened following the check, but 15 days later, on Jan. 2, police released a missing persons bulletin for Anastazia.
Officers found Romero, Zuber and two of their children at an Albuquerque home two days later, according to the criminal complaint. Anastazia’s body was found at a different home.
Police say Romero admitted Anastazia was dead. She told officers she left the little girl and her 2-year-old child “in the bathtub full of water unsupervised,” according to the complaint. She said she later found Anastazia unresponsive.
Police say more than an hour passed, and Anastazia’s mother “never sought help” for her nor called police or medical assistance. Instead, Romero told police Zuber took the little girl’s body and left the apartment. According to the criminal complaint, when Zuber returned, he told Romero “it was taken care of.”
In court Saturday, the state asked that Romero be held in custody until her trial. A ruling has yet to be reached on the request.
Zuber has not yet appeared in court.
The couple’s two other children have been placed in the custody of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.
The police department has opened an internal investigation to determine whether their child abuse case policies and procedures were followed.