An autistic woman from New Mexico suffered horribly and eventually died under the care of her supposed caregivers within her own home.
Mary Melero, 38, endured severe injuries, including cuts, bruises, and bedsores so severe that her bones were exposed. On February 27, police discovered Melero in a van at the El Paso port of entry while her caregivers were trying to transport her to Mexico for medical assistance.
Investigators found evidence of restraint marks on Melero’s body, suggesting prolonged confinement. They believe she spent three dreadful days in a bathtub filled with her own waste before being transported to the border. Melero died on April 7 at the University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas.
Following an investigation that began with the border stop, police arrested three women and charged them with abuse and neglect. Attorney General Raúl Torrez condemned the abuse Melero suffered as the worst he had ever seen in his career. He declared that her treatment was tantamount to torture.
The accused caregivers, Angelita Rene Chacon, 52, and Patricia Hurtado, 42, both from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, along with their friend, Luz Scott, 53, face charges including abuse or neglect resulting in fatality, false imprisonment, and conspiracy to commit false imprisonment. Chacon and Hurtado, participants in a waiver program, received approximately $5,000 monthly to care for Melero. Along with At Home Advocacy and three other contractors, they collected nearly $250,000 over three years for Melero’s care.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and top health officials have pledged to hold accountable any caregivers who abuse vulnerable individuals, particularly those with developmental disabilities. Republican legislative leaders have called for an independent federal investigation to ensure accountability and prevent such horrors from happening again.