Omaree Varela

February 3, 2004  - December 27, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial

Essie Sotelo was a foster mother to Omaree and his younger sister, Neviah, until the Children, Youth And Families Department decided to return the children to live with their biological mother, Synthia Varela-Casaus. Essie took the children in when Synthia decided that drugs were more important than her children and started to neglect and ignore them, becoming what is called an absentee parent. It was reported that Synthia had been arrested over 20 times in the past 13 years on various charges.

Omaree was said to be a vibrant, loving, good child who loved life. So why was it that in June of 2013,  he was forced to call 911 in order to protect himself against his mother? Police would answer the call, but then leave the children in the home, Omaree would end up dead just a few months later.

Omaree made the mistake of spilling food and that's when the yelling and verbal abuse started. Omaree was able to call 911, but said nothing, hoping that someone on the other end of the phone would hear and come to help him. On the 911 call, Steve Casaus, Omaree's stepfather,  is heard yelling, cussing and threatening him. The 911 call is quite long with cussing and screaming and even Omaree begging his stepfather to stop, at one point. The call goes on pretty much like the following, throughout the entire call:

"I swear, I'm going to have a nervous f------ breakdown, mainly because of this little s--- right here.

You make everybody sick around you. Everybody"

The 911 call was recorded and you can hear adults telling Omaree to stop crying, apparently because he had some bruises, one of the adults yelling his his mother:

"You just want attention, right? RIGHT?

Omaree never says word until Steve tells him that he will beat him and that no one likes him, not even his own brother. Omaree can be heard on the 911 call yelling:


Steve replies by cussing and telling him to shut up before he pops him hard. Steve then goes on to talk about Omaree wants him to be his dad but he's not going to be and cussing more tells him to never look at him as his dad adding that he's never hated anyone so much in his life. Police showed up after the 911 operator convinced them that something was wrong and they needed to check on this child.

As it usually turns out, a teacher had called CYFD to report the possible abuse of Omaree when he had cuts and bruises on his body. Nothing was done at that time. Officers Gil Vigil and Scott McMurrough went to the home and video from a lapel camera would record what happened when they got there. The picture to the right is Omaree as he was seen on the video captured by the lapel pin one of the officers was wearing. One of the officers can be heard saying:

"You guys seem like a good family. A decent family. Just be
careful what you guys say when you
say stuff like that. I am
going to overlook it right now"

WHAT? You're going to overlook it? The couple claimed that they don't yell like that and it was probably the neighbors who do. Telling them to be careful WHEN saying things like that is just like saying, beat your child, just be careful so that you don't get caught doing it. The officers claimed they spent two hours at the

home, though the lapel pin showed they were only there for about 15 minutes, why the lie. As it turns out, the officers would never even take the time to write a report about what had  happened.

In December of 2013, a call came in for emergency help and responders found Omaree dead at his home. Synthia Varela-Casaus, who was 38 years old at the time, was arrested after telling police that she had become angry with Omaree and kicked him. Autopsy revealed that Omaree had been stomped on and beaten so badly that it took 30 pages to describe his injuries which included having lost about 25% of his blood through internal bleeding. Omaree had bruises and injuries in various stages of healing including on his back, hips, genitals, bite marks and cigarette burns on  his chest, upper lip and on his back. Synthia was being held on $100,00. bond and and was charged with child abuse resulting in death.

Essie and her family were devastated about the loss of this child they loved so much:

"I blame CYFD for what happened because they put him in that house. I told them that girl was not ready
to take care of those kids. He was doing so good when he was with us. He liked school, he loved sports,
he was happy"

A statement was made by CYFD Secretary Yolanda Deines in which she said that their agency did not have an open case with this family, she added:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with this innocent nine year old child who was failed by the person who
should have loved him the most. These types of cases are always so troubling and send ripples through-
out our community. And they should, for we always strive to protect the innocent. CYFD is actively
investigating the circumstances surrounding Omaree Varela's death and we are working closely with
our partners in law enforcement and with prosecutors to hold the perpetrator of this crime accountable.
As this is an ongoing investigation, per the New Mexico Children's Code law, we cannot comment
further about this investigation or any other investigations"

As it normally turns out, CYFD documents would show that they were aware of the concerns that were ongoing with the safety of the children in the home as they had been in contact over the years with the family as well as with Essie about her concerns for the children. In February of 2014, Officer Gil Vigil was fired and Officer Scott McMurrough was suspended for an entire 56 hour period. I hope he learned his lesson in that short, ridiculous time of being suspended. CYFD took custody of the two remaining children in the home.

Steve Casaus was arrest soon after on drug charges where he and his 22 year old daughter, who brought her three year old daughter along, tried to buy drugs from an undercover police officer. Steve was also going to be charged with six counts of child abuse in connection with the death of Omaree and his three year old granddaughter was taken into custody by the CYFD:

"I think this cause is real important to the community because a little boy that was vulnerable and
unable to help himself was killed and we need to see that that doesn't happen again as best as
we can"
Kari Brandenburg - District Attorney

Flowers and other memorial items were left outside of the home where Omaree died.

A candlelight vigil was planned in a park near his home and people were asked to wear blue. It was expected that at least 300 people would attend the vigil.

This page was created on May 29, 2014
Death Occurred in the state of New Mexico

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