A woman and her 17-year-old boyfriend have been charged with the killing of two children and the torture of a third after two bodies were found in a Redding storage unit earlier this month, Monterey County prosecutors said.
Tami Joy Huntsman, 39, and her boyfriend, Gonzalo Curiel, were charged Monday with two counts of murder, one count of child abuse and multiple counts torture and conspiracy to commit a felony, according to the criminal complaint from the Monterey County district attorney's office. Prosecutors have not decided if they'll seek the death penalty against the pair. Curiel is being charged as an adult.
Authorities say Huntsman and Curiel killed the two children and hid their bodies in the storage unit.
The grim case came as a result of a child abuse investigation in Quincy, a small town in Plumas County. Sheriff's deputies went to Huntsman and Curiel's home earlier this month after receiving a phone call from a concerned resident and found a starving 9-year-old girl with untreated broken bones, authorities said. The girl is recovering at a hospital.
It turned out the child was one of five in Huntsman's care, according to Elliot Robinson of the Monterey County Department of Social Services. Two of the children were Huntsman's from a previous marriage and the other three were relatives, local media outlets reported.
But authorities only found three children inside the Quincy home – they didn't learn there were supposed to be two more there until after arresting the couple and interviewing family members. Curiel pointed investigators to the storage unit in Redding, where the bodies of the two missing children were found.
An autopsy revealed that the two children appeared to died from sustained abuse, Robinson said. Though the bodies were found in Redding, investigators determined they were likely killed in Salinas around Thanksgiving.
Shortly after the bodies were found, Robinson said his department reported the deaths of 3-year-old Delylah Tara and 6-year-old Shaun Tara to the state. Between September 2014 and August, Monterey County social workers visited Huntsman's home in Salinas four times for general child negligence investigations, Robinson said.
The children were not removed from the home during any of those visits. Huntsman, her boyfriend and the children relocated sometime after that and were spotted in towns across Northern California in recent weeks, police said.
Huntsman and Curiel will be arraigned once they're moved to Monterey County from up north, authorities said.
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