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Step-mom Suspected of Critically Injuring Toddler 2019

A Las Cruces step-mother and her friend have been arrested on child abuse charges after a 2-year-old girl was found severely beaten and suffering from potential life-threatening injuries.

Desirae Nichole Vargas, 30, and her 18-year-old friend, Anika Samario, were both arrested Saturday and booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center. Vargas is charged with a first-degree felony count of reckless child abuse resulting in death or great bodily harm. Samario is charged with one third-degree felony count of child abuse.

Shortly after 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 23, Las Cruces police were dispatched to Vargas’ home on the 1100 block of Montana Avenue after a neighbor heard a young child in distress. Officers arrived, spoke with Vargas, and asked to see her 2-year-old step-daughter. Officers observed the young girl have to have multiple bruises. The girl was initially transported to Mountainview Regional Medical Center and then to University Medical Center for advanced care.

At the hospital, the young girl was found to have multiple bruises to an eye, her face, neck, arms, torso, abdomen, back, buttocks, genitalia, legs and feet. She also appeared to have bite marks on her buttocks. The 2-year-old girl remains hospitalized in El Paso.

Medical professionals told Las Cruces police investigators the young girl was suffering from rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition caused by muscle injury which can lead to kidney failure. Investigators learned the girl had swelling in her abdomen and was close to renal failure.

Las Cruces police investigators learned Vargas is the girl’s step-mother and her husband, the girl’s father, was incarcerated at the time of the incident. Investigators learned that Samario and another female friend of Vargas have been staying at the residence for the past couple of days.

Samario indicated to investigators that Vargas began beating her step-daughter with a leather belt about midnight and continued doing so for most of the morning until shortly before police arrived. Samario indicated she heard the girl repeatedly ask Vargas to stop.

Vargas and Samario are initially being held without bond at the detention center.