Superior, AZ – A 20-year-old Arizona mother was arrested on two counts of murder on Mar. 26, after her infant and toddler were found dead inside a vehicle parked outside the woman’s home.
She claimed that she left her children inside a vehicle parked outside the family’s home at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Mar. 26, while she went to work.
Nearly 14 hours later, she returned to find them dead, still strapped in their car seats.
The children were not breathing, and had blood coming out of their mouths, the mother said.
They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Velasquez told police that someone else was responsible for watching the children while she was at work, but that unidentified person denied the woman’s claims, police said.
The alleged caregiver "stated she had no idea what was happening and did not know what Brittany was talking about," sheriff's office documents stated, according to CBS News.
"There was no proof that Brittany actually dropped the children off," the document said. "It is known that the kids spent several hours in the vehicle as there was condensation on the inside windows of the vehicle and the children were cold to the touch."
Velasquez’s grandmother, Sally Velasquez, with whom the woman and her children were residing, told police that the vehicle did not move from the front of the home all day, The Washington Post reported.
At her court appearance on Tuesday, the judge noted that while the details of the case were still under investigation, "we know that the kids were fine in the morning and then they were dead at 11 o'clock at night, and they'd been in that car for some period of time,” CBS News reported.
Temperatures the area reached 75 degrees on the day the children died.
Police and members of Velasquez’s family said that the mother had been reported to the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) for neglect in the past, according to multiple news outlets.
"Everyone knew, and it's kind of mind-boggling that after this happens, after talking to a lot of family members, we don't want to say, 'we told you so', which it sounds horrible, but in the back of our minds, it was always the worst case scenario that we knew was possible," Velasquez’s brother, Vincent, told KSAZ.
On Mar. 27, DCS explained they had received two reports regarding the woman and her young children, but that there was “insufficient evidence to prove the allegations” of neglect, and that they found “no legal grounds to remove” the children, according to the department’s statement on the DCS website.
Velasquez also struggled with drug addiction and mental health issues, and would often leave her son and daughter with family members for multiple days at a time, The Washington Post reported.
The children’s father died of a drug overdose in June of 2017, just two weeks after Brooklyn Rose was born.
"My grandparents raised them pretty much because Brittany, she was kind of a little deranged," Brittany's brother told KSAZ. "What my grandparents could only do is let Brittany stay at their house. Really, that was all they could do for the kids."
Velasquez was being held on $2 million bond, and was scheduled to return to court on Apr. 30.