My child’s molester was arrested in March of 2007 and in September of that same year, our local news stations began reporting about a missing 3-year-old child, Neveah Gallegos. The whole city was alarmed and teams of people were looking for her. I was pure, raw emotion at that time and I felt myself nearly obsessed with little Neveah. All these years later she still lives in my heart, it is my intention to bring her to life in yours as well.
Neveah’s mother Miriam called the police with claims that her child had been “snatched from her arms” and offered a detailed description about two kidnappers and their car. None of it was true, 3 days after she had reported her child missing Neveah’s lifeless body was found inside 2 trash bags and a duffel bag that had been dropped in a wooded area a few miles from her home. Although the news reports at the time stated that Neveah had died as a result of being raped, a Denver Post article by Jordan Steffen says “An Autopsy report included 3 pages of traumatic injuries found on Neveah’s 30 lb body. The coroner could not determine which of them lead to her death.”
Miriam had promised her own mother Janet, that she would never leave Neveah alone with Angel Montoya again. Angel Montoya, Miriam’s boyfriend, had been investigated in 2006 for vaginally penetrating Neveah, who was only 23 months old at the time. The case was dropped because the state did not have enough evidence without Miriam’s corporation. There had been several cases against Montoya before. In December of 2000, he was charged with indecent exposure to minors. In 2003, he faced legal grief when he failed to register as a sex offender, and in 2005 he was charged with false imprisonment and child abuse, which were plead down to misdemeanor crimes.
The truth of Neveah’s death is that her mother went to work one evening and left Montoya alone with Neveah. Within hours Montoya called her, frantically telling Miriam she needed to come home. When she got there and found her child dead, Miriam did attempt to resuscitate her, and when all efforts failed Miriam helped to concoct a plan to protect Montoya. Together, they put Neveah’s body inside of the 3 bags and delivered her for the police to find.
Neveah represents a group of child sexual abuse victims who go largely silenced and ignored. The very young are far from sexual objects for most of humanity, but for others, they induce arousal. It is almost unheard of, at this time in the USA, to prosecute cases for toddler-aged sexual abuse victims. In fact, it is not uncommon for the non-offending parent to find the law turned on them when they report such crimes to the authorities. Studies have proven that just 2% of child sex crimes are falsely reported, but the legal system does not reflect this shocking truth in its judicial or prosecutorial opportunities. Our laws don’t reflect the science or the research on pedophilia. There are far too many mothers and children living in fear with predators having legal advantages in states that recognize Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), which was written and promoted by Richard A. Gardner, a self-professed pedophile.
Looking at a 23-year-old seminary student from Ohio, Joel Wright, we see how disturbing human sexuality can be. 7 news out of San Diego has an article online from Monica Garske and Samantha Tattro that explains ‘According to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Wright had planned to travel from San Diego to Mexico to have sex with at least three babies. He pleaded guilty to one charge of attempted enticement of a minor.’ Mr. Wright had been unknowingly emailing a Federal Agent in attempts to “own/adopt a baby girl under 3” on an upcoming trip to Mexico. Ms. Garske and Ms Tattro explain in grave, stomach-turning detail that “Wright had two cell phones and a duffel bag. Inside, the bag agents found baby clothes, sleep aids, bottles, toys, candy, and lubricant, prosecutors said.” Angel Montoya and Joel Wright are men who make nightmares.
Neveah died because there is no safety net for children who are not fully audible or who are not considered ‘old enough’ to prosecute by the courts. Justice for child sexual abuse victims is a rarity at any age. The non-offending parent is often the only protection a child has. And when the non-offender is blind to the situation or chooses to stand by the offender, the child victim is completely abandoned, as in Neveah’s case.
I wonder what allowed Miriam to leave her child alone with Angel, again? I wonder what made her feel ‘right’ or ‘good’ about that choice? When she came home and saw all the blood on the floor and walls, what did she think? Where was her instinct to protect her child? Should Miriam have been questioned in more detail? Yes, I believe so. Knowing her mental and emotional level of devotion to Montoya would have indicated the likelihood of him reappearing near Neveah. If she had been educated about pedophiles would she have made the same choice? One must hope the answer would be, no. If state officials had frequently knocked on her door to see if Angel Montoya was at her home, would fear have kept him away? Pedophiles are bold, and the more they get away with the more risks they will take. It’s likely, in my opinion, that more home visits would have pushed Angle to convince Miriam to bring Neveah and leave the state. In any case, there is much that could have been done to prevent her untimely death, there were too many missed moments to prevent it.
An article from March of 2008 stated “Montoya had again failed to register as a sex offender and was on the run (after Neveah’s death). Extremely frustrated with the lack of arrest of her own daughter Miriam Gallegos and Angle Montoya, the child’s grandmother Janet Gallegos, reached out to an attorney for help in procuring justice for Neveah. Her attorney, Donna Thomas had a grand jury convened, and that is what it took to set justice in motion. Both Miriam and Angle are in prison today for Neveah’s death, thanks to Janet. If it wasn’t for this grandmother Mr. Montoya would be on the streets able to act at will. It is concerning that a grandmother had to fight for justice. The state appears to have been frozen to act, a common response to the shock of a human being who rapes a toddler.
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Advocate and Author
Annalise grew up in the Midwest but moved to Denver, Colorado more than 20 years ago. Her oldest child is 19, and she has a son in high school as well as two step daughters. Teaching her kids to cook is a family favorite! In her spare time, she enjoys reading, watching movies and connecting with friends and family.