HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in New Mexico were searching Wednesday for two parents accused of child abuse and their four children after they skipped out on a home visit with a social worker.
Hobbs police recently issued warrants for Luiza Badea, 22, and Andrei Cristian Ducila, 25, for custodial interference.
The state Children, Youth and Families Department said it couldn't comment specifically on the case but that it's common practice to notify law enforcement whenever contact is lost with a parent or guardian. The agency then works with authorities to relocate them.
The abuse case involving Badea and Ducila stems from 2019 when the couple was panhandling with their children. who were 4 and under. The couple was holding a sign claiming they needed formula, food and gas money.
Authorities say the children were dirty, red in the face from the summer heat and wearing no shoes. They had various health problems such as diaper rash, dehydration, tooth decay and sunburn, according to a criminal complaint.
According to Hobbs police, the children were placed in the custody of the state child welfare agency and the parents were arrested and charged with four counts of child abuse. Over the next year, a court decided to allow home visits on a trial basis as part of an effort to reunify the family.
Ducila and Badea were given back three of the children on March 30 and the youngest child joined her siblings about a week before the family disappeared, according to a police incident report obtained by the Hobbs News-Sun.
A state caseworker attempted to contact the family May 1. She told officers she went to their home several times and called Ducila’s phone number more than a dozen times with no response.
According to the report, the caseworker told officers someone at the apartment complex where the family lived said they overheard the parents mention traveling to California.
Aside from the warrants naming Badea and Ducila, a motion was filed Tuesday in state district court to review the parents’ conditions of release related to the 2019 child abuse charges.
If the family is found, the Children, Youth and Families Department would assess the children's safety and then determine an appropriate course of action. Spokeswoman Melody Wells said the agency would consider "all placement options in the children’s best interest.”
When the couple was first arrested in June 2019, police said they found Ducila with about $300 in his wallet. He told officers he needed to get back to Texas and that he had no money, food or baby formula. Court documents say officers found formula, food, drinks and snacks in the family van. They also reported that it was not out of gas.
Officers said the family was unable to show proof of residence, proof of housing for the children, or proof of clothing, food, and safety for the children.