New questions arose Thursday about Mayra Solis, the mom of a three-year-old girl who was found on Monday sealed with duct tape inside a trash bag filled with feces and other filth and refuse, shut behind a closet door in a Mesa, Arizona, apartment. According to a report on KNXV-TV in Phoenix, police had an encounter with the mom and daughter in December.
But even though the little girl appeared dirty and smelled of urine, police decided not to intervene and report the situation to state child protection authorities when they caught the 22-year-old Solis attempting to shoplift from a local Wal-Mart store on December 18.
Exactly one month later, police received a tip about an abused child and found the same toddler taped into the trash bag inside an apartment allegedly occupied by 30-year-old Francisco Javier Rios-Covarrubias, who according to the tipster — who was at the apartment for a sexual ecounter with Rios-Covarrubias — produced the child and offered the other man the opportunity to sexually abuse the little girl, whose mouth was taped shut.
Records: Mesa PD had run in with accused mom Mayra Solis before 3 yr old was found bound and gagged in the closet – https://t.co/p1PoSgDJq3
— Laura Kittell (@elle_kittell) January 21, 2016
Solis reportedly left her daughter with Rios-Covarrubias, an undocumented immigrant, for “babysitting” while the mom went to work at a Taco Bell fast food restaurant.
But just four days before their grim discovery, police had a second encounter with Solis and the little girl when an officer who was previously acquainted with Solis from high school stopped her for panhandling outside a different Wal-Mart store. But again, the officer did not report the mom and child to authorities.
According to Wal-Mart store anti-theft officer Jason Tilley, when police encountered Solis in December, they did consider making a report to Child Protective Services.
“The lead officer was debating calling CPS because obviously shoplifting with child and the condition the child was in, but for whatever reason they didn’t do it so we thought that was strange.” Tilley told KNXV. “It’s just heartbreaking because you know something should have been done ahead of time back in December, and it’s just a shame it took something to this extent to happen.”
Mesa Police Detective Steve Berry said that the ability of police to intervene in such situations is limited.
“If you got a mom or a child or a little person who don’t have the same means as someone else, but they are clothed, there’s shoes, there’s nothing outstanding there,” Berry said. “We can try to offer resources, but we can’t simply hold someone or take their child or restrict them.”
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Maria Solis, grandmother to the abused child — who remains in a hospital recovering from her horrifying and sickening ordeal — said in an interview with KPHO-TV that she had no idea that the little girl was being abused, only that Mayra had moved out of her own mother’s home and did not reveal where she was living.
As it turned out, Mayra Solis was homeless.
“We had no idea that Mayra was allowing all of this to happen,” the distraught grandma told KPHO. “She moved out in October and told me she was moving in with a family.”
She once attempted to follow Mayra to find out where she was living, but lost her in traffic, the grandma said. The young mom split from her daughter’s father in May of last year.
Another relative, who asked KPNX-TV to withhold her identity, said that the whole Solis family was shocked by the revelations that Mayra’s daughter was being victimized in such horrific fashion.
“We’re really hurt, sad, thinking about what happened to her is so sad,” the woman said. “No one knew. It breaks our hearts. We would’ve done anything to stop it from happening. We had the idea that she was living with the perfect family and with another little kid. She had the perfect facade.”
Mayra Solis was arrested Monday on a charge of child abuse. Francisco Javier Rios-Covarrubias is charged with kidnapping, sexual conduct with a minor, and felony child abuse. He was denied bail and placed on an immigration hold.
[Image via Mesa Police Department]