A woman has been arrested in the suspected murder of her 5-year-old daughter, Tatiana Garcia. That is devastating enough. But even more mind-boggling is that the police had been to the suspect's home on the morning the little girl was found critically injured, and Tatiana and her little brother looking just fine at the time. Said a police officer familiar with the case:
The kids were sitting on the couch playing, laughing. They appeared to be healthy. They appeared to be clean.
The officer who came to the home reportedly spent 30 minutes inside and found nothing awry, so he left. Later that afternoon, Tatiana was found struggling for life inside the trunk of her mother's car.
It's unclear why an officer originally went to the home, but the mother, Talamantes, was apparently acting strangely, and that was enough to warrant a visit. There, police say the mom was acting strangely and repeatedly questioned the cop's reason for visiting, even though he repeatedly explained it to her.
But this was not enough to take the children from her. Later that day, cops were called back to the house by a relative, who feared for Tatiana's safety after she went missing with her mom.
Tatiana was eventually found inside her mother's trunk. Police believe that the child was assaulted in her home, put in the trunk, and driven to Sacramento from her home in Davis.
Reportedly, the girl was alive in the trunk, but died later in the hospital. Family have told the media that the girl's mother, Talamantes, was mentally ill. She was also reportedly in the middle of a bitter custody battle.
What happened to the little girl will be the main question for investigators. The mom has pleaded not guilty in her death.
But there will also be questions as to whether this could have been prevented. After all, if that officer had taken Tatiana out of the home, she'd be alive now.
But police and child services workers aren't mind readers. The sad fact is that people can often have Jekyll and Hyde personalities. Fine one minute; horrible the next. If the children appeared happy and healthy without signs of abuse, how would anyone have known to take her out of the home?
On the other hand, there are people who aren't properly trained or who want to give the benefit of the doubt so they can get on with other things.
Sometimes children are taken from homes for ludicrous reasons. Families are nearly destroyed because of overzealous protectors.
And then you have stories where these protectors just weren't doing their jobs.
This one sounds just like a tragic case of "no one could have known." But more details may come to light.
Image via Sacramento Police