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Court Documents: Family kept girl in wooden cage for her safety

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Jan 29 2013 08:28:39 PM CST
Updated On: Jun 03 2013 06:43:33 PM CDT

ABC-7's Vanessa de la Vina reports.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

Court documents obtained by ABC-7 reveal new details about a case involving a mentally disabled child found home alone locked inside a wooden cage.

Cindy Patriarchias, 33, and her live-in boyfriend Edmond Gonzales, 37, were arrested on Friday after police found Krystal Lewelling, 8, inside a wooden cage.

According to the criminal complaint, one of Patriarchias' young children told his mother he didn't feel right about leaving Krystal home alone.

Patriarchias' children told police their mother would put Krystal in the box when she misbehaved, according to documents. Documents show one of the children said Krystal was left home alone "because she was misbehaving and that mommy gave her some medicine to make her knock out."

Many people in the Las Cruces community were shocked hearing the details of this case.

"We were upset watching this story because we wondered how this could have happened? How no one could have checked on this child and no one would know this is going on?" said Donna Richmond, a Las Cruces adoptive mother.

Krystal was never a foster child or a ward of the state.

ABC-7 searched through New Mexico court records and found Patriarchias was granted a kinship guardianship of Krystal in 2007.

"A kinship guardianship is where there is a child that is placed with a relative generally and is a voluntary placement by one of the parents," Grace Duran, a local attorney, told ABC-7.

The guardianship also means Krystal's care was not supervised by state agencies such as the Children, Youth and Families department since it went through the courts.

Police said they found Krystal sitting inside a wooden cage on Friday. Meanwhile, Patriarchias, her boyfriend and her three other children were out watching a movie.

Court documents reveal the other children referred to the wooden cage as Krystal's bed.

Police said Krystal suffers from microcephaly and has the mental capacity of a two year old.

Documents show Patriarchias' estranged husband John told police "he had built the wooden cage for Krystal because she kept getting out of the toddler bed they had for her and would get into household cleaning supplies, medicine bottles and cabinets during the night."

He added the cage was built for her safety and that while he lived with Krystal it was never used for punishment.

He did tell police that "he had returned to the home on five different occasions since the separation and two of the times he did notice that Krystal was in the wooden cage for misbehaving," according to the documents.

ABC-7 was at Patriarchias' mobile home when the property manager posted an eviction notice on her door for violating the terms of her lease.

A woman who claims she is a friend of Patriarchias stopped by the mobile home and claimed she was picking up things for the children. She would not give ABC-7 a comment.

A spokesman for the Children, Youth and Families department said they are now working with police on this case.

"All of the children in the home have been placed in CYFD state care to ensure their safety and well being. I can also tell you that the residence has never been a foster home licensed by CYFD," CYFD spokesman Bob Tafoya told ABC-7.

Patriarchias bonded out of jail earlier today. Gonzales is still in jail.

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