Jovonie Ochoa
September 1, 1999 - December 25, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial
Early Christmas day in 2003, a child lay dying, while in the same house, his family was Celebrating. That child had been born on September 1, 1999 and his name was Jovonie Ochoa.

In October of 2003, Jovonie was left, along with his two sisters, to live with their paternal Grandmother, Maria Palacious and their Grandfather Juan Palacious. The mother of these children, Lisa Ochoa, who was 23 at the time, said that she was unable to care for her children due to being addicted to heroin.

Living in the house with their mother were Geronimao Esqueda and Delores Esqueda along with Delores's four young children. They all lived in a three bedroom house.

During interviews with the children in the house, investigators discovered that Jovonie had his hands and mouth duct tape by Delores and that this had happened at least 10 times that the 11 year old child could remember. A nine year old stated that he had seen his mother, Delores, duct tape Jovonie's mouth and hands and then strike him in his head. Delores has denied duct taping his hands and mouth, however, she says that her own mother did this to Jovonie. 

It was discovered, during his autopsy, that Jovonie had severe bed sores which were consistent with someone who had been confined to a bed for long periods of time. The medical staff at Methodist Children's Hospital who took care of Jovonie on Christmas day, said that he was "Skin and bones". Weighing only 16 pounds, Jovonie was the weight of about a six month old baby, though he was four years old.

Maria Esqueda, Maria Palacios' 21 year old daughter, has stated that she saw her mother duct tape Jovonie's mouth and hands during a visit several weeks before his death, and begged her to stop, Maria continued to do the duct taping. Maria saw Jovonie during a visit on Christmas Eve and says that he was so sick he could not get out of bed.  Maria went into his room where he was covered with a green flowered blanked and said "Hi, Tía Maria. I love you." When Maria left the house at 10:30 p.m., the family was still celebrating. The next day , Jovonie was dead.

Bexar County sheriff's homicide detective Alfred Damiani had this to say:

"A case this heinous, there can be no explanation for," 

The arrest warrant for this case states that Jovonie was severely malnourished and was skin and bones. It indicates that he was lying on his back for several weeks before his death and the contents of his stomach revealed very little other than what appeared to be curdled milk. In the last statements of the warrant it lists both his Uncle and his Grandmother for taping Jovonie's hands and feet and striking him repeatedly.

Investigators plan to prosecute everyone who was involved. Jovonie's mother for abandonment, his Uncle and Grandmother for the abuse and neglect and his Aunt for standing by, watching and doing nothing about it.

Dep. Chief Ruben Garcia, Bexar County Sheriff's Office says:

"It's something that we really took to heart and we wanted to make sure that we conducted a full investigation," 

Rebecca Delgado-Vasquez, Jovonie's God mother says she kept at Child protective services for two years to try to get them to help Jovonie:

"I called CPS and I told them something was wrong with him, I told them something is
happening to him because he
wasn't that skinny," 

Rebecca also says that she begged Jovonie's Grandparents to let her have him:

"I begged them to give him to me, just give him to me, I said look I won't say anything anymore, 
I won't cause you any problems, just give him to me and I'll raise him for you guys and you'll 
always get to see him," 

She also says the family has turned against her:

"They're blaming me, they're blaming me and my husband for coming forward, that if we 
hadn't come forward, Jovonie would still be alive,"

On February 2, 2004, WOAI News Radio, reported that Jovonie's, Grandmother, Mother and Aunt were all put into protective custody after it became apparent that the other prisoners were outraged and could threatened to do harm to the three women for what the child had been through.  Jovonie's Uncle is said to be in the general population of the Bexar County Jail. 

Chief Deputy Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz had this to say:

"All three of them are in protective custody. They are in a room by  themselves. They get to 
come out by themselves once every 24 hours for an hour," 

How sad that they are protected from others, but, Jovonie was not protected from all of them.

Jovonie Ochoa was buried with the grave stone you see to the left. The memorial stone was paid for by the generosity of the public through donations. <>Jovonie is now resting peacefully, away from those who chose to harm him and cause his death.  Jovonie's final resting place is at the Wild Flower Memorial Park located in San Antonio, Texas.May the Angels keep him in their care!

My thanks go out to the anonymous person who e-mailed me this story.

This poem or song was written in memory of Jovonie Ochoa, a 4 year old San Antonio boy who died of starvation on Christmas Day 2003.

A Christmas Angel: Jovonie

The Lord heard a prayer one Christmas Day
A child asked for wings to fly away
Wings that would take him far away from the world he's known

Now there's a Christmas angel assigned to hurting children tonight
He asks God for deliverance from their plight
Jovonie, no one knows their hurt better than you
May your precious memory show us the right thing to do

The Lord heard a prayer one Christmas Day
A child asked for wings to fly away
Wings that would take him far away from the world he's known

As you ride on Jesus' shoulders calling heaven your home
May your celestial view help point to children with no voice of their own
Please show us mere mortals the part we should play
Because no child should hurt on Christmas Day

The Lord heard a prayer one Christmas Day
A child asked for wings to fly away
Wings that would take him far away from the world he's known

Please listen to this song here:
A Christmas Angel: Jovonie
by Gina M Hayes
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Rated "G" by the Author.
You can purchase this song here:
CD Baby -  Gina Hayes


April 15, 2004 

San Antonio, Texas:  District Attorney Susan D. Reed announced that a grand jury has handed-up indictments in the starvation death of 4 year-old Jovonie Ochoa.  The indictments were filed against Ochoa's grandparents, Maria Palacios and Juan Palacios; Ochoa's mother, Liza Ochoa; his aunt and uncle, Delores Esqueda and Geronimo Esqueda.  All but Juan Palacios, the step-grandfather, has been previously arrested for the crime. 

The indictments charge all the defendants with Injury to a Child by Omission, which is a first-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for 5-99 years or life.  Various other charges were filed against the different defendants, depending on their role in Ochoa's death.  Bonds against the defendants will remain as previously set.  The bond against Juan Palacios has been set at $100,000.  The investigation is continuing.  The District Attorney said, "This defenseless child's death was the result of a group of adults targeting him for abuse.  The adults responsible will now have to answer for it."

Please visit the "Jovonie's Declaration" page of the Blue Ribbon Task Force which has been established in Texas.


Today is June 13, 2014 and while searching for updates for Jovonie's case, I found this information:

In June of 2006 Mary DeLeon AKA: Maria Palacios was convicted of injury to a child, unlawful restraint and endangering a child. Sentencing was life in prison for injury to a child, ten years for unlawful restraint and two years for endangering a child. It was also decided by the jury that Mary had used a deadly weapon during these offenses.

Death occurred in the state of Texas

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