Hours before a 5-year-old girl was found unresponsive in the trunk of a car in Sacramento’s Pocket neighborhood on Thursday, police officers were inside the family’s Davis home, speaking with the mother who later would be arrested in the child’s death.
Davis officers had entered the Glide Drive duplex after encountering Aquelin Talamantes, 29, on the street outside and finding her behavior concerning. They found the home to be clean, and the children – 5-year-old Tatianna Garcia and her 4-year-old brother – safe, police officials said. So the officers provided Talamantes with information about family resources and left.
By the end of the day, the little girl was dead and her mother was in custody.
As Yolo County authorities took control of the investigation Friday, questions persisted over the circumstances that led to Tatianna’s death. The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office has not determined a cause of death, pending autopsy results.
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Family members who gathered Friday at Talamantes’ Davis duplex, across from a quiet park, posted a sign on the door saying they were not ready to speak to the media. The shades were drawn, and Halloween decorations adorned the front entry. Nobody answered the door at the Pocket Road apartment where Talamantes was visiting when her daughter was found; blinds were drawn there, too.
The Sacramento Bee’s efforts to reach other family members, including Tatianna’s father, were unsuccessful.
Davis Assistant Police Chief Darren Pytel said Friday night that Talamantes first came into contact with his officers about 9:30 a.m. Thursday. An officer was conducting an unrelated traffic stop in front of Talamantes’ home, and she came outside to ask what was going on. Her demeanor concerned the officer, who called for backup, Pytel said.
When a second unit arrived, the two officers went inside Talamantes’ home. They found a clean living space, and observed no signs of neglect or abuse in the children, Pytel said. The officers spoke with Talamantes and an adult family member for 30 or 40 minutes, offered family resources and left, Pytel said.
Pytel declined to say what specific concerns prompted the offer of resources, or the nature of the services discussed. He described the call as a “routine welfare check” and said the officers handled it appropriately.
In midafternoon, Talamantes drove to the Shore Park apartment complex on Pocket Road in Sacramento, where she has relatives. Upon learning she had the 4-year-old boy with her at the complex – but not Tatianna – the family member who had stayed behind in Davis grew concerned and contacted police.
Sacramento police arrived at the complex, found Talamantes and soon discovered Tatianna in the trunk. Officers and bystanders attempted to resuscitate the girl, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital.
When the child was placed in the trunk – and her condition at that time – remain under investigation, Pytel said. He declined to say whether any trauma was visible on the girl’s body. But investigators suspect the crime began in Davis, and authorities there have taken over the case.
Talamantes remained in custody Friday at the Yolo County jail. Jonathan Raven, Yolo’s chief deputy district attorney, said his office had not yet determined what charges would be filed because police reports are not yet finalized. However, he said Talamantes is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at 1:30 p.m.
It appears to be Talamantes’ first major brush with the law. Public records indicate that in 2007, she was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor disorderly conduct while under the influence of a drug in Solano County; the outcome of that case was not immediately clear Friday. Yolo Superior Court records indicate that Talamantes appeared in court for a traffic violation in July.