By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Portales police have charged a 24-year-old Portales mother with killing her 6-year-old son, according to court documents. Teresa K. Gilman may have believed her son to be possessed by the devil, according to the arrest affidavit.
Gilman is charged with first-degree murder or in the alternative child abuse resulting in death.
Lorenzo A. Cabral Jr. was pronounced dead at 12:39 p.m. Thursday at Roosevelt General Hospital after emergency personnel found him in a bedroom at 727 N. Ave. M in Portales unresponsive and not breathing, according to police.
Autopsy results indicated head trauma as the preliminary cause of death but the initial report could not rule out drowning as a contributing factor because of water in the lungs and foam in the mouth, court records show.
“We know there are two major factors involved,” Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said. “The head injury that caused him to become lethargic and the water that was given to him in what was essentially a comatose state.”
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler said Gilman is being held without bond in Roosevelt County Detention Center and will appear before a grand jury within the next 10 days.
Police received a 911 call from Gilman’s mother, Ramona Risinger, in which she stated the boy was not breathing and was unresponsive, court records show.
Once at the residence, emergency responders found the boy in a bedroom with Gilman at his feet crying and three other children sitting on a bunk bed in the room crying.
According to Risinger’s statement, she stopped at the house Thursday morning and heard Gilman screaming. She discovered Lorenzo’s limp body in the bedroom. She saw Gilman pouring water in the boy’s mouth from a milk jug and told her to stop.
When she learned they had not called 911, she said she called.
Risinger told police Gilman had told her that the devil was in Lorenzo and that she had been up with him all night. Risinger said her daughter told her the devil was talking to her through Lorenzo and she saw Lorenzo’s father’s girlfriend. She said the girlfriend was talking to her through Lorenzo. She said it was the devil and God who told her to give Lorenzo water to flush out the devil.
Berry said Gilman was arrested Thursday for possession of drug paraphernalia after search warrants produced items consistent with methamphetamine and marijuana usage.
Berry said four search warrants had been served in the case, including one Friday night. They included one for Gilman’s clothing and one on her body for toxicology purposes.
Detectives later conducted an interview with the oldest of Lorenzo’s siblings in the house at the time, an 8-year-old sister.
Her statement revealed that Lorenzo had been sick and vomited during the night. She said Gilman gave him Tylenol and at some point took him into the other bedroom.
She described Lorenzo fainting and said her mother told her to get a gallon of water.
The sister described how her mother poured water into his mouth and then described that she pinched his nose and forced air into his mouth, much like rescue breathing. She described Lorenzo as making “devil or growling” noises.
The sister’s statement also described other ritual type processes that the mother went through, including pouring salt in a circle around Lorenzo while continuing to pour water in his mouth.
Other charges filed in the case include four counts of child abuse against the children in the house, who were ages 8, 3 and 10 months.
“There are a few other people we’ve identified as potential witnesses and we will be interviewing them over the next several days,” Berry said.
He said police would probably wrap things up at the scene Friday night.
“The Portales Police Department has conducted a very thorough investigation,” Chandler said. “They’ve literally worked around the clock since they received the 911 call,” he said Friday night.