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7-year-old girl died of abuse, neglect


Weld kin charged in death of bruised, emaciated child

Monte Whaley

Denver Post

Greeley - Investigators found at least 68 cuts and bruises covering LoReyna Barea's tiny body after she died March 9 in Evans. The 7-year-old also was emaciated and suffering from severe dehydration, according to the arrest affidavit.

But LoReyna's legal guardians - her aunt and uncle - told investigators that she was a happy child and that they have no idea how she suffered all of her injuries.

Police and medical officials came to a different conclusion, charging that LoReyna died as a result of physical abuse and a lack of medical care.

The girl's autopsy, detailed in the arrest affidavit, said she was so emaciated that her joints, ribs and spine were clearly visible, and she weighed 34.8 pounds, which is less than the 3rd percentile of her age.

LoReyna's aunt, Genevieve Barea, 45, and Barea's husband, 47-year-old Dan Partch, were in the Weld County Jail on Thursday on $500,000 bail, a day after they were arrested and charged with one count each of child abuse resulting in death.

"Obviously, this case is extremely alarming," said Weld District Attorney Ken Buck.

Buck said he held off filing charges against Barea and Partch until a coroner's report was completed and reviewed this month.

"We suspected as much about this case, but we wanted it confirmed," Buck said.

Barea had custody of LoReyna and her four brothers, ages 13 through 6. Barea and Partch adopted two brothers in 2003 and became legal custodians of LoReyna and two other brothers two years ago, according to Evans police.

The four brothers, who had no reported injuries and were not malnourished, have since been placed in foster homes. Buck and the arrest warrant did not explain why LoReyna was mistreated and not her siblings.

LoReyna's mother - 32-year- old Margaret Barea - died in February from injuries she suffered in a car accident two months earlier.

Genevieve Barea, Margaret's sister, took over care of the children before Margaret's death because of her alcoholism and allegations of child abuse in South Dakota, according to court documents. Margaret Barea was later cleared of the charges.

Family members couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, and the couple did not respond to a request for an interview in jail.

Court documents released Thursday said paramedics and fire personnel pronounced LoReyna dead at 2:47 a.m. March 9.

When Evans police and a coroner's investigator arrived, they found a very thin LoReyna with feet and hands clenched and two visible bruises on each shin area, the affidavit said.

Barea had called police saying that LoReyna was feeling sick. She and her husband also said that LoReyna had fallen off her bicycle two days earlier, according to the affidavit.

She also complained of being tired, having pain in her legs and her fingers and hands clenching up. Her brothers tried to pry her fingers into a straight position only to have then clench up again.

An autopsy, conducted March 9, revealed 49 contusions and 19 abrasions on her body. Forensic pathologist John Carver pinched the skin on LoReyna's stomach, and the skin did not return to normal, a sign of severe dehydration, according to the report.

At one point, Carver told detectives: "There was no doubt in my mind that if she (LoReyna) had been seen by a doctor, she would still be alive."

All the children were home- schooled, which prevented school officials from seeing any changes in LoReyna's appearance, the report said.

Barea and Partch also had not taken the five children to a doctor in at least two years, the report said.

The couple told investigators that the girl was a happy child and that they did not notice any bruises on her body, according to the affidavit.

They are scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Staff writer Monte Whaley can be reached at 720-929-0907 or mwhaley@denverpost.com.

2007 May 25