Shocking Case of Neglect: This Starved Three Year Old Was So Malnourished She Ate Cockroaches

The alleged oversights by authorities that led to Alexandra Tercerro's short and tragic life.

In May of 2015, 3-year-old Alexandra Tercerro was found dead by paramedics just one week before her fourth birthday. When medical responders examined the girl, they found that she had been beaten so badly that part of her skull was exposed and she was so malnourished that she only weighed about 15 or 16 pounds. 

Upon investigation, officials learned that Tercerro died under the watch of the Department of Child Safety.

When Alexandra was born in 2011, doctors were shocked to find methamphetamine in her system. She and her older brother were then removed from their parents, Carlos Cruz, 28, and Rosemary Velazco, 36, and placed into foster care. They were returned back to their parents in 2012.

Then, in 2014, DCS officials removed Tercerro’s infant sister from the home due to suspicions that the child was in danger. When DCS questioned the parents regarding the whereabouts of Alexandra and her brother, parents told officials that the children were safely living outside of the country.

The DCS case workers asked for verification to prove the address of the children; however, the case file indicates that the case judge never followed up when the parents defied the order. In fact, the case worker never contacted the Mexican Consulate to make sure the children were safe.

It turns out the children were in the home the entire time, and when DCS made appearances, the children were taken to the neighbor’s house, said Velazco. When the children were home with the parents, they were locked in a bedroom with a paint can that was used for a toilet.

In May of 2015, Alexandra’s uncle found her unresponsive and called the police, who found a home crawling with cockroaches and a bedroom with a padlock on the door. Alexandra had severe signs of abuse and was emaciated. Alexandra’s older brother told officials that he witnessed his sister eating roaches off of the floor.

This case has made many question the work of the DCS. For a year, Alexandra was subjected to terrible abuse even though the DCS had a file on her. However, it appears that the DCS was negligent when it comes to confirming the child’s whereabouts, which could have ultimately led to her death.

The DCS has not commented on the current location of the other children. Velazco was pregnant and still using meth when she was arrested. Her fourth child was taken into care on a dependency notice on October 16, 2015. Cruz and Velazco are both in jail awaiting trial for murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty

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