Las Cruces stepmother accused of critically injuring toddler

Las Cruces News
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A Las Cruces woman is in jail for allegedly seriously injuring her young stepdaughter over the weekend.

According to a news release, the incident happened at about 7 a.m. Saturday at a home on the 1100 block of Montana.

Police say Desirae Nichole Vargas, 30, allegedly beat the 2-year-old girl several times with a belt throughout the night, leaving bruises to her eye, face, neck, arms, torso, abdomen, back, buttocks, genitalia, legs, and feet. 

She also appeared to have bite marks on her buttocks, according to police.

According to the release, the girl was initially taken to Mountainview Regional Medical Center and later transferred to El Paso’s University Medical Center to treat her potential life-threatening injuries.

Medical experts told investigators that the victim was suffering from rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition caused by muscle injury which can lead to kidney failure. 

Police later learned she also had swelling in her abdomen and was close to renal failure, according to the release.

Officials say Vargas and her friend, Anika Samario, 18, were staying at the home for the past couple of days. Vargas’ husband, the girl’s father, was in jail at the time of the incident.

Samario told investigators that the toddler repeatedly asked Vargas to stop hitting her, according to the release.

Both Vargas and Samario were taken into custody on Saturday and booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center.

Vargas is charged with reckless child abuse resulting in death or great bodily harm, while Samario faces one third-degree felony count of child abuse.

The victim remains in the El Paso hospital.

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