Man jailed in abuse of 3 children; his sister is sought
By Michelle Casady
A man was arrested Wednesday after his niece told investigators he and her adoptive mother — who owns and operates a day care center — routinely beat, starved and neglected her and her two brothers.
Rogelio Archuleta, 26, was arrested on three charges of causing serious bodily injury to his 8- and 10-year-old nephews and 10-year-old niece.
Authorities also were looking for his sister, Iliana Archuleta, wanted on three warrants related to the abuse.
Bexar County sheriff's Detective Louis Antu said an investigation with Child Protective Services led to Rogelio Archuleta's arrest, as well as the closure of the Honey Tree Preschool and Child Development Center, where he worked along with his sister.
Antu said, however, that the Archuletas are not suspected of abusing any of the children at the day care center, which is in the 8300 block of Culebra Road.
“Around 2 p.m. (Wednesday), we went to the day care and started the process of calling all the parents to come pick up their children,” Antu said. “The state of Texas took over the day care and shut it down.”
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the investigation began Oct. 13 when Iliana Archuleta brought her 8-year-old son to the hospital after he suffered a seizure.
Hospital staffers found bruises all over the boy, who weighed 45 pounds, “severely below the standard for a child of his age and stature,” according to the affidavit.
When hospital staff examined the other two children, they found one with an infected toe that developed into a bone infection. Both had bruises all over their bodies and signs of chronic malnutrition, including extremely fine hair and the loss of fatty tissue beneath the skin, according to the report.
Iliana Archuleta told police she has two biological children in addition to the three she adopted. Investigators don't believe those children were abused
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, the girl told police her mother made the children bite each others' toes and ears while Rogelio Archuleta held them down, and that her mother forced them to spray bleach on the open wounds and threatened to spray bleach in their faces if they did not comply.
The girl also told police that if the children were good, they would get half a sandwich to eat. If they were bad, they were forced to eat sticks of butter — and then to eat their own vomit if they got sick.
There was a lock on the refrigerator, the girl told police, but she sometimes snuck crackers from the pantry for her and her brothers at the risk of being beaten if she was caught.
The children were forced to sleep in a bathtub, the girl told police, adding that she had to sleep upright because it was so crowded. The tub's sliding glass doors were locked, she said, and a bucket was placed inside in case they needed to use the restroom overnight.
One time, she told police, her uncle grabbed her ankle while she was lying on the floorboard of their car and twisted it so badly that she couldn't walk and had to get a cast. She recalled one time he hit her so hard she “blacked out,” according to the affidavit.
Bexar County led all major metropolitan areas in the state in confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect at 5,915 in the past fiscal year.
During the same period, 20 children died — including 12 because of neglectful supervision or medical neglect and six who were from families previously investigated by CPS.