Mom wasn't allowed to see Roman, child-welfare files show

2014-03-08T00:05:00Z 2014-03-08T15:38:13Z Mom wasn't allowed to see Roman, child-welfare files showBy Patricia Machelor Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 08, 2014 12:05 am  • 

The mother of a Tucson toddler whose skeletal remains were discovered Tuesday was not supposed to have contact with the child, state child-welfare records released Friday show.

After Arizona’s child welfare workers last had contact with the family, reportedly in August 2012, at least three people contacted Child Protective Services, replaced recently by the Division of Child Safety and Family Services, about Roman Barreras’ family and about the 3-year-old boy. But there is no record indicating workers visited again — even after a caller found the child’s mother, Raquel Marcella Barreras, with the boy.

Child Safety and Family Services released the records following a public records request by the Arizona Daily Star. Attempts to reach Charles Flanagan, who heads the new agency, were unsuccessful Friday.

Child-welfare workers were notified in October 2012 about the older children not attending school, and again in November 2012 and in January of this year with specific concerns about the welfare and whereabouts of Roman Barreras.

A report of neglect taken in November 2012 shows an unidentified caller told CPS that Roman had not been seen for three weeks and that the boy’s parents were isolating their family. The caller also reported the mother was in the home but, the record reads, “per the family’s prior involvement with (CPS), she was not supposed to be.”

Tucson police then visited the family, records show, and found he was being adequately cared for by his father.

“Roman was observed and noted to be very small and thin for his age,” the report reads. “The father reported that (Roman) was not previously diagnosed as failure to thrive.”

The case was closed, with the allegations of neglect unsubstantiated. It is unclear when Roman died between that visit and his skeleton being discovered earlier this week.

In January, a caller again urged the child-welfare agency to check on the boy: “Roman had not been seen for several months to a year,” the caller said. The address of the family was listed as unknown in this report.

When Roman Barreras was born in July 2010, child-welfare workers took him while he was still in the hospital because his mother had tested positive for methadone, court records show. At that time, all five children were in state protective custody. Eventually, the state agency returned the children to the custody of Martin Barreras.

Roman Barreras’ siblings told police this week that their mother starved their brother and put his body in a toy chest in the backyard, according to records. The couple’s four other children include a 12-year-old son and three daughters ages 4, 7 and 19.

Court and arrest records of Raquel Barreras, 39, indicate a prolonged history of drug addiction.

She was booked into the Pima County jail Tuesday and faces first-degree murder and child-abuse charges. Her husband, Martin Raymond Barreras, 45, also was jailed and faces one count of child abuse.

The last time family members remembered seeing Roman was in 2012. During a news conference Thursday, several said they called DCSFS out of concern for the children.

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at pmachelor@azstarnet.com or 806-7754.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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