By Karl Terry and Casey Peacock: PNT Staff
The death of a 6-year-old Portales boy and his mother’s arrest in connection with his slaying has surprised neighbors and family members.
Lorenzo “Lenchito” Cabral Jr. died Thursday at Roosevelt General Hospital. A preliminary autopsy shows he suffered a head injury, but the report did not rule out drowning as cause of death, police said.
Police charged Teresa K. Gilman, 24, of Portales Friday with first-degree murder or in the alternative child abuse resulting in death along with four counts of child abuse. District Attorney Matt Chandler said either of the first two counts can carry a sentence of life in prison on conviction.
The arrest affidavit for Gilman detailed witness statements revealing Gilman believed her son was possessed by the devil and the devil and God were ordering her to flush the devil out of him by pouring water down his mouth after he became unconscious or lethargic following the head trauma.
Next door neighbor Judy Southern said she has known Teresa Gilman since she was a baby. Gilman and her sister used to hang out and play with Southern’s four older children.
Southern’s grandson would also play with Gilman’s children
Southern said she never felt Gilman was capable of doing what police allege.
“I know she was a single mother trying to raise four kids,” Southern said. “It doesn’t seem like her personality. It’s just hard to believe. I’ve never seen her be violent toward her kids.”
Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said Gilman was arrested Thursday for possession of drug paraphernalia after search warrants produced items consistent with methamphetamine and marijuana usage.
While efforts to talk directly with the family were unsuccessful at press time, statements in the arrest affidavit by family members recorded their disbelief in the situation.
Teresa Gilman’s father, Arvin Gilman of Portales, told police that talk of the boy being possessed is way out of line with his daughter’s personality.
Arvin Gilman said while he had never seen his daughter take drugs, he had heard her talk about it and he had noticed that she had lost weight in the past few years.
Teresa Gilman’s mother, Ramona Risinger, told police in statements included in the affidavit that she had talked with her daughter on the phone at length the night before the child died and everything had appeared fine.
Risinger came by the house the next morning and called police when she found her grandson unresponsive and not breathing with her daughter kneeling beside him.
In the affidavit, police describe the residence as cluttered with trash and dirty laundry. The home was equipped for natural gas, but no service was in place. The woman and her four children had apparently been huddled in one bedroom because of the cold based on the fact that there was only one mattress in the house. The only heat was from two electric space heaters.
Police also said there were no working toilets in the home and the only water available was from a hose running from the washer to the kitchen sink.
“This was pretty extreme,” Berry said. “We think a lot of the conditions deteriorated in the last month or so in this situation.”
According to Southern, the four children seemed cared for and were never dirty. The few times Southern was in the Gilman home at 727 N. Ave. M in Portales, she said it was cluttered and lived in, but not filthy.
There were toys scattered on the floor and clothes that needed to be folded, but the dishes were washed, she said. The yard was also normally kept clean, she said.
“It was lived in, I wouldn’t say it was filthy. Mostly it wasn’t that bad,” Southern said.
Southern said Gilman seemed to have a lot of patience with the kids and they never seemed to be abused or neglected.
“They seemed like happy, well-adjusted kids,” she said.
Teresa Gilman’s three remaining children, ranging from 10 months to 8 years old, are in the custody of Child Protective Services. She is jailed at Roosevelt County Detention Center without bond.