Mesa police say a man has been arrested and accused of sex trafficking and child abuse after a 3-year-old girl was found in his apartment bound in duct tape.
During a media briefing Tuesday morning, Chief John Meza said the girl was the apparent victim of sex trafficking on behalf of the suspect, Fransisco Javier Rios-Covarrubias, 30.
Police say the child was reported to police by a man who’d met Rios-Covarrubias online and arranged to have sex with him. The man claimed Rios-Covarrubias asked him if he wanted to have sex with the child.
“This is one of those cases that just shocks the soul,” Meza said.
According to a police report, the man who contacted authorities told them he went to Rios-Covarrubias’ apartment in the early morning hours Monday. The man said Rios-Covarrubias, who was dressed in a pink dress and a blond wig, performed oral sex on him before Rios-Covarrubias gave the man some methamphetamine, which he smoked, the report stated.
However, later when the witness was in the front living room, he smelled a bad odor and when he turned around, Rios-Covarrubias had the 3-year-old girl next to him with her hands secured with duct tape and duct tape over her mouth, he told police.
According to the police report, Rios-Covarrubias asked the man if he wanted to have sex with the girl. The man told authorities that he asked Rios-Covarrubias if he had kidnapped her, and he said no.
The report states that the man yelled at Rios-Covarrubias about how dirty the girl was and he left the apartment. Later, he received a text message from Rios-Covarrubias who said the child was gone and he could come back and have sex, the man said.
When the man returned he did not see the girl and he had sex with Rios-Covarrubias, according to the report. However, after having sex, the man felt compelled to call authorities about what he had seen, the police report states.
When officers entered the apartment, they found the child in a front closet. She was in a black trash bag with only the top of her head exposed, the police report reads. She had duct tape around her mouth, hands, arms and legs, authorities said. Meza said her condition was described as extremely neglected, saying she was wearing only a diaper and a t-shirt and was “covered in feces.”
“The child was forensically examined and many bruises, scratches and blisters were observed on her body,” Meza said. “The level of neglect was so harsh, she couldn’t stand on her own.”
According to the police report, at the hospital, a forensic interview was attempted with the girl but she was nonverbal. “It is unknown at this time if she is unable to speak or will not speak due to the emotional and physical trauma she has sustained,” the report states.
Rios-Covarrubias identified the girl as the daughter of a friend who is homeless, police said. Officers found the mother, Mayra Yomali Solis, who admitted to leaving the child with Rios-Covarrubias for an extended period, seeing her only about one day a week, according to Meza.
The girl was kept in a closet and left alone for long periods of time, Meza said. Rios-Covarrubias told police that he had placed duct tape on the girl’s mouth to keep her quiet while he had sex with the witness. He also said that he left her unattended in his apartment when he was at work and he turned up the volume on his television so no one would hear her. Additionally, he said that he had not changed the girl’s diaper in three days because he didn’t have any others.
Reaction at the La Mesa Village apartments was shock and disgust at the horrific details. Several residents said they saw heavy police activity in the complex, with officers going door-to-door asking questions in an effort to gain more details and identify the child’s mother.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s sick,” resident Kyle Serrano said. “I can’t believe something like that was going on two doors down from me.”
Other neighbors described the complex as a friendly place, which made the news that much more shocking. Neighbors who live below and directly next door from the suspect both said they never heard anything and rarely saw Rios-Covarrubias.
The mother also admitted to police that she shaved the girl’s head and told people she had cancer in order to get money.
The child is in the custody of the Arizona Department of Child Safety while at the hospital; her condition was described as fair.
The charges facing Rios-Covarrubias include sex trafficking, kidnapping, sex conduct with a minor and child abuse. Solis is facing child-abuse charges.
Meza said officers also found a small amount of methamphetamine in the apartment.
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