The backyard was used as a pet cemetery
A New Mexico man is accused of causing the death of his 1-year-old daughter and then burying the child’s body in a yard.
In a disturbing twist, the man claiming to be the owner of the Albequerque property on which the toddler’s body was discovered told local news station KOAT the suspect had asked him to bury his deceased cat.
David “D.J.” Zuber, 26, was arrested on Jan. 4 for child abuse resulting in death and tampering with evidence and conspiracy after the body of 1-year-old Anastazia was found buried. Anastazia’s mother, Monique Romero, 23, was also charged with child abuse resulting in death and tampering with evidence and conspiracy.
In an interview with KOAT, Thomas Dunn, who owns the property, said that Zuber, his landscaper, asked him to bury his deceased cat while he and his roommates were on vacation.
At the time, Dunn told the station, it didn’t seem strange because Dunn used his yard as a pet cemetery.
“It was a cat that had died, one of his cats, and he needed to bury it,” Dunn recalled Zuber telling him.
But shortly after Dunn returned home in early January, he was visited by authorities.
“Homeland security, investigation teams, dig sites,” Dunn said. “Everybody’s here.”
It didn’t take long for authorities to locate Anastazia’s body.
“It was buried in the backyard underneath the remains of a dead dog. The body was inside two layers of a white plastic trash bag inside of a black duffel bag,” Dunn told KOAT. “It’s truly devastating, to be honest with you. Every time I see this, I wonder why.”
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On Jan. 2, authorities put out a missing persons alert for the 1-year-old and her family weeks after learning Zuber allegedly called his mother and said his daughter had drowned in a bathtub.
Authorities arrested Zuber and Romero two days later. Romero allegedly admitted to police that her daughter had drowned after she left her and Anastazia’s older sibling in the bathtub unsupervised, KRQE reported.
She allegedly told police when she discovered her daughter’s lifeless body in the tub, she did not seek medical attention and instead let Zuber take the girl out of the apartment. When he came back without her, he allegedly told her “it had been taken care of,” according to WTVM.
Zuber allegedly told police where they could find his daughter’s body, according to the station.
“It’s tough for detectives to go out to a location, dig a hole, find a dead baby in a bag and then have to build a case around that. It’s horrible,” police spokesperson Simon Drobik said, WTVM reports. “So, I would ask the public to think about that child.”
Romero’s attorney could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Information on whether Zuber had an attorney to comment on his behalf was not available. It’s unclear whether either have entered a plea.
On Friday, Zuber was granted a release on his own recognizance, KOB4 reports.