Toddler dies; parents face murder charge

An 18-month-old twin girl who police said was abused by her father died Friday, said Sgt. Chris Widmer, spokesman for the Tucson Police Department.

Her parents, Kristepher Benavidez, 25, and Monique Gaxiola, 30, are now facing charges of first-degree murder.

The pair were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of child abuse but the charges were upgraded after the toddler died.

Tucson Fire Department personnel were called to a home in the 5200 block of South Newcastle Court, near South Midvale Park Road, about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

While Fire Department personnel took one of the toddlers to a hospital, police discovered her twin and a 7-year-old sister at a neighbor's home.

The older child appeared uninjured, but the twin girls had suffered "injuries that appeared nonaccidental," Widmer said.

Detectives "determined that the father had been physically abusing the twin 18-month old sisters for an unknown period of time. The mother was aware of the abuse but did not report it. Both children suffered severe trauma from the abuse," Widmer said in a news release.

The other twin is hospitalized. The oldest child is in the custody of state Child Protective Services.

Bond was set at $20,000 for Benavidez and $5,000 for Gaxiola. Widmer couldn't say if the bond has been increased.

Arizona Daily Star

Girls taken by parents recovered in Mexico

U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies have recovered two young children taken by non-custodial parents.

The State Department is caring for 1-year-old Estella Lovemore and 2-year-old Carolina Oddo in Mexico pending their return to the United States, the U.S. Marshals Service says.

The girls were found Thursday in Hermosillo, Sonora, where authorities took into custody 22-year-old Danielle Nicole Lovemore, the mother of the 1-year-old, according to the Marshals Service.

Lovemore has been returned to the United Sates to face a charge of custodial interference.

Her daughter was in Arizona Child Protective Services custody in January.

The other girl's biological father is 26-year-old Luis Fernando Palacio.

He's wanted on a custodial interference warrant accusing him of taking the girl in November. He was supposed to return the girl to her mother.

The Associated Press

2 sought in burglaries that start with rocks

Four law enforcement organizations are looking for two suspects in an ongoing series of burglaries that started in December.

Tucson, Marana and Oro Valley police, as well as the Pima County Sheriff's Department, are investigating the crimes.

The burglaries follow a similar routine: Someone throws a rock through the front door of a business, then robs lobby-area desks of cash and valuables.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department estimates that the thefts in its jurisdiction have caused between $12,000 and $15,000 in damage.

One suspect is Charles Painter Spear, 38, who wears a facial mask to cover a disfigurement. The sheriff's Burglary Unit has obtained a warrant for Spear's arrest.

Another has not been identified.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or 88-CRIME.

Arizona Daily Star

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