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Parents Charged With Murder of Infant Found Buried in Shallow Grave

Vanessa Martinez died less than three months after being born and, according to the local Sheriff’s Department, her parents are to blame. However, Child Protective Services (CPS) may bear some of the responsibility in this tragedy as well. The TriValley Central reports:

CPS confirmed to the Arizona Daily Star that there was a previous report of neglect involving the mother of Vanessa Martinez, who was born in October.

Vanessa’s parents, Olivia Paige Martinez, 20, and Jonathan Niles Kesterson, 26, were arrested and charged in her death, which is thought to have occurred in January.

Vanessa’s body was discovered in a shallow grave just last week. Her death only came to light after Kesterson was arrested in San Diego for an unrelated offense and told authorities that Vanessa passed away due to sudden infant death syndrome on January 8–Kesterson and Martinez then left for San Diego and buried her along the way. While the true cause of death is still under investigation, questions remain as to why Vanessa was allowed to stay with her parents in the first place:

The infant was born with methamphetamine in her system, according to state Child Protective Services records.

CPS is working with San Diego Child Welfare Services, which took the couple’s other daughter into custody.

Despite that prior contact with CPS, Vanessa died on her parents’ watch and they were able to leave for San Diego without catching the system’s attention. Details are still emerging, but it seems that Kesterson and Martinez, based on their own statements to police, may have been negligent parents:

Detectives interviewed Martinez on April 16. She said Kesterson was watching the baby while she was at her job at a Tucson strip club. Martinez added Kesterson contacted her while she was at work and let her know Vanessa was having trouble breathing.

When Martinez arrived at the hotel where they were staying with their other young daughter, Vanessa was dead.

While Kesterson and Martinez will certainly face a judge for their alleged crimes, the question remains as to whether something went wrong in CPS’ handling of the case.