Monsters walk among us. People bereft of any care for another human. People, who derive pleasure and joy in inflicting immense pain and suffering on others. People, who kill without the slightest remorse or sense of wrongdoing. People without a conscience.
There is no other way to describe them than Monsters. They come in all forms, in all degrees of evil. They can be predatorial, literally hunting for a victim to torture. Rapists. Serial killers. Child abductors. Armed robbers. They can be much lower key, content to get their kicks off of terrorizing their own families. Parental or sibling incest. Child abusers. Batterers. They are those who personally know of heinous acts being committed against another, but choose to remain passive and ignore, and thereby allow and enable it to continue. They can be strangers you only read about in the news in the aftermath of their evil deeds, if caught. And they can be your next-door neighbor, holding down a job, saying “hello” to you at the mailbox, while harboring a vile secret life behind their closed home doors.
However psychiatrists and sociologists may qualify and explain their behaviors, their deeds are no less evil.
They are Monsters, they are rife in our society, and innocent children are so commonly their favorite entrée.
This week, joining Adriana and John Lytle, evil stepmother and father of four-year-old deceased Summer Lytle, is the story of San Antonio’s Valerie Lopez.
Valerie, at the age of 19, has birthed four children and is no newcomer to child abuse. Valerie was only 13 years old when she gave birth to her first child, a daughter in late 2001. In 2003, Valerie was convicted of assault in San Antonio after punching her daughter, when only nine months old, repeatedly in the face to get the baby to cease crying. It took a year for San Antonio courts to levy their judgment against Valerie after the baby’s abuse was reported early in the year before by her own sister. Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) did not take the baby away from Valerie, but instead placed both Valerie and her baby together into foster care.
One year later, Valerie procreated another child, a son this time from a second father. One more year later, in early 2005, she ended up running away from her foster home and left both of her children behind. That blessing allowed these two infants to escape further harm, as CPS was forced to take custody of both children, who have since been adopted.
In October of 2005, Valerie’s third child was born with yet another father, and named the child Sariyah Garcia. Less than a year later, Valerie gave birth to her fourth child by a fourth father, a son whom she named Sebastian Lopez.
In November of 2006, one of Valerie’s grandmothers called CPS and reported that Valerie was abusing her two infants. CPS did nothing, even knowing Valerie’s past history. They knew where she lived, knew where she worked, and even interviewed some of Valerie’s friends and neighbors to gain this information. They did nothing and effectively served a death sentence upon these two children.
On Christmas Eve last year, Valerie’s now 14-month-old daughter Sariyah became inconsolable, crying constantly. So Valerie repeatedly hit and punched her infant daughter on her head, chest, back, abdomen…over and over until the child stopped crying. Sariyah was most likely dead. Instead of calling for medical assistance, Valerie instead wrapped the child in a blanket, sealed the blanket with duct tape, then stuffed the wrapped child into a trash bag. Valerie then went outside and tossed her daughter’s body into the crawlspace of her building, beneath her very own apartment.
I reiterate, this occurred on Christmas Eve.
Some two months later, Valerie’s tiny infant son died at around four months of age. According to Valerie, this death was an accident. She and her baby were asleep in her bed and she says she just rolled over onto the infant, smothering and crushing the child. True to form, Valerie’s next action was a repeat performance. She wrapped her son in a blanket and stuffed him, too, into a trash bag that she tossed next to his decaying sister in the area beneath her apartment floor.
All this time, since early Fall of 2006, Valerie shared her apartment with her live-in boyfriend, Jerry Salazar, 28. Jerry has stated he never thought twice about the children’s disappearances, believing Valerie’s story that her mother was taking care of the girl and boy. Nope. Didn’t know a thing…except he had seen Valerie hitting and abusing her children. It just wasn’t a big deal to him. Parents knock their kids around all the time in his world.
It wasn’t long after baby Sebastian’s death and trashing that Valerie and Jerry moved out of their apartment and moved on with their abominable lives. Valerie never looked back, nor did Jerry.
When the warm temps of early Spring arrived in San Antonio three weeks ago, so did a horrid, foul stench that was sickening the residents of the apartment complex on West Winnepeg Avenue. And after two weeks of their complaints falling upon the deaf ears of their complex management, a group of residents decided to find the source of the smell themselves. They tracked the smell to its source beneath Valerie’s old apartment. One man crawled beneath to inspect the two bags, cut into one with his pocket knife, and was horrified when an infant’s foot appeared.
Salazar and Lopez received a call that day at their new apartment. The caller informed them about the discovery of the two bodies and that police were looking for them. The pair left like scalded cats.
A massive manhunt was launched in San Antonio for Valerie Lopez and Jerry Salazar and for four days, they evaded capture. Police tracked down a woman with whom Salazar had traded messages on an online dating service a few months before. She told them that Salazar had, in fact, called her in desperation and said he needed her help. With this woman’s help, however beleaguering, the US Marshall’s Service set up a sting. The woman made arrangements with Salazar to pick up Salazar and Lopez and let them stay in her own apartment to hide. Valerie and Jerry had enough time to get comfortable, pop a sandwich into the microwave and break out their marijuana stash, when police knocked on the door. They were taken into custody at 5:30 a.m. Saturday Morning, March 10. Neither resisted arrest.
Valerie’s new home is the Bexar County Jail, courtesy of a $10 Million bond placed on her head for one count of Capital Murder for the death of her daughter Sariyah. More charges are coming, once the cause of death of son Sebastian is clearly determined. An autopsy is still underway for Sariyah, as well. Their funerals are expected to be held sometime next week.
Salazar is also calling the Bexar County Jail home right now and is held under a $1.1 Million bond. He has been charged with Injury to a Child by Omission, because he admitted knowing about the abuse and didn’t care to do anything about it. He also is charged with having an invalid drivers’ license.
Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed has already announced that she will be seeking the death penalty for Valerie Lopez.
Reportedly, residents of the West Winnepeg apartment complex have made a sign and affixed it to the side of the building where the children were found. It screams volumes in its simplicity: “SHAME ON CPS!”
I agree completely. I would add shame should be souldly levied upon Valerie’s and Jerry’s families and friends who turned a blind eye, and especially to the person who called Jerry Salazar to tip him off. In my book, every single one of them are complicit to both of these crimes and the deaths of both children. So are the CPS case workers who were noticed of abuse by Valerie Lopez’s grandmother last November. Unfortunately, I doubt anyone really wants to tackle the challenge of proving any of this.
In a mood to join me in raising Hell with the State of Texas over our CPS and their role in these children’s deaths? Please feel free to email our Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott at firstname.lastname@example.org . To those who do, you have my sincere and heartfelt thanks.
Here is a story from the San Antonio Express-News that interviewed Lopez in jail the day after her arrest:
Their full story of yesterday with additional video footage links is here: