TUCSON, Ariz. — Police say a Tucson couple was arrested Wednesday after
human remains believed to be those of their 3-year-old son were found in a
plastic toy chest in the backyard of a home where the family had been living.
The remains are believed to be those of Roman Barreras and were discovered
Tuesday by someone who was cleaning the home as the family was in the process of
moving out, said Tucson police spokesman Sgt. Pete Dugan.
The boy’s mother, Raquel Barreras, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree
murder and child abuse. The boy’s father, Martin Barreras, also was booked on
suspicion of child abuse.
Dugan said authorities are trying to determine how and when the child died. The
cause of death will be determined by medical examiners.
Police were unable to tell whether there were signs of abuse on the decomposing
Dugan declined to say whether family members knew of abuse of the child, but
said relatives had raised questions about where the boy was and were given
The couple have four other children ranging in age from 4 to 19.
Dugan said there didn’t appear to be any signs of abuse on the other children,
but the children suffered from neglect, such as not attending school regularly.
The state’s child welfare agency has taken into custody the three children who
are under 18, police said.
It’s not unclear whether Raquel and Martin Barreras have a lawyer. They don’t
have a listed phone number.
Dugan said the remains weren’t those of 6-year-old Isabel Mercedes Celis of
Tucson. Authorities have been searching for the girl since her father reported
her missing in April 2012.