Police are accusing a New Mexico mother of helping drug and sexually assault her 10-year-old daughter hours before her birthday party on Aug. 24.
Authorities arrested the mother, 35-year-old Michelle Martens, her boyfriend 31-year-old Fabian Gonzales and 31-year-old Jessica Kelley, The Washington Post reports.
Officer Tanner Tixier, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department, said the adults injected methamphetamine into the child “to try to calm her down so they could do what they want to this little girl."
“What happened to this little girl is ... horrific,” Tixier added.
Kelley and Gonzales reportedly proceeded to sexually assault the child after drugging her. Later, all three -- including the girl's mother -- stabbed and strangled the 10-year-old girl to death.
“This is a horrific tragedy for our community," said Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden Jr. "When something like this happens to our community, it has an effect on each and every one of us. I want to assure the public that we will pursue justice, and we will make sure that we exhaust every resource into this investigation.”
When he was arrested Gonzales -- who has a criminal record that includes felony child abuse -- pinned the full blame for the crimes on Kelley, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
Kelley is in hospital after trying to run away from police.
Authorities say Kelley and Gonzales were both involved in the sexual assault.
Local residents and loved ones were shocked and in tears over the child's death.
Neighbor Paulina Quintana recalls the little girl showing neighbors a kitten while excited about her upcoming birthday birthday only the day before.
“She seemed fine, she didn’t seem scared or upset,” Quintana said. “She was all happy.”
“My stomach has been hurting. I’m crying off and on," she added. “I think we’re all freaking out.”
Laura Bobbs was family friend who recalled helping plan the girl's birthday party that never happened.
“We were going to do pedis and manis and have cake,” she said. “She told me, ‘Auntie, I’m turning 10, so don’t buy me any toys.’”
Bobbs sobbed and screamed when she visited the apartment afterwards.
“No, no, no, say it ain’t so,” said Bobbs. “Who does this to a little child? Oh, Jesus. Oh, that evil. What is happening to this world, that they would kill a little child?”