Dec 18, 2015 7:50 PM by News Staff
Family members of the children believed to be the ones found dead inside a Redding storage unit are speaking out and they say the system failed two innocent kids.
The bodies of a 6-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl were found inside a storage locker at Enterprise Stor-All on Tarmac Lane in Redding on Sunday. That discovery came after Plumas County deputies found a severely abused 9-year-old girl in Quincy last Friday.
The relationship between suspected murderer Tami Huntsman and missing children, Shaun Tara, 6, and Delylah Tara, 3 remains hazy, but the children were in her custody and reported missing by the Salinas Police Department.
Huntsman and her 17-year-old boyfriend, Gonzalo Curiel, were arrested last week. On Thursday, the Monterey County District Attorney said they both will be charged with two counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances. The special circumstances being that the murders were committed during torture.
The mother of the children, Vivian Saucedo, was killed in a car accident in 2013, and it appears as though Huntsman became the guardian of Shaun and Delylah at the request of their father, Shaun Daniel Tara. Tara is an inmate at the Riverside County Jail and according to court records was arrested in 2014.
Facing a stint in prison, family members of Saucedo say Tara turned his children over to Huntsman, his cousin.
In an interview with Action News Now on Thursday, half-sister to the missing children, Precious Aponte, said she never met Huntsman, but upon learning the woman would be caring for her siblings, she took comfort in knowing Huntsman had children of her own.
On a GoFundMe page established to pay for the children’s funeral expenses, Laura Garcia Miranda wrote, “the system failed my niece and nephew, multiple calls were made to do welfare checks, but nothing ever came of it. Now we have to bury 2 small innocent kids, who will never have the chance to grow up, finish elementary school, play with friends, or even graduate high school.”
The children’s grandmother said Friday that text messages she received from Huntsman made things seem as though the kids were okay.
Records show that child welfare workers visited Huntsman four times in the past year, investigating allegations of neglect. Elliot Robinson, head of the Monterey County Department of Social Services, tells the San Francisco Chronicle in a story Wednesday that investigators couldn't find a big enough risk to the youngsters in Tami Huntsman’s care to remove them from her apartment in Salinas.
Salinas police said Thursday that officers responded to two anonymous calls requesting a welfare check at Huntsman’s residence in the past six months. On the first call, nobody appeared to be home, and the second, they found the kids doing homework and found no evidence of abuse.
On Thursday, police said the two children died as a result of “ongoing physical abuse,” and Chief of Police Kelly McMillin said this was the worst case of abuse he has ever seen.
Redding police said that despite being found in Redding, autopsy results showed that the kids were killed in central California. The Salinas Police Department will be the lead investigative agency moving forward.
Prosecutors in Monterey County say they will decide later whether to seek the death penalty for Huntsman and Curiel.
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