Truck again searched for evidence in Jeremiah Valencia killing

March 2, 2019

Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office investigators have once again searched an impounded truck for items that might be linked to the November 2017 death and burial of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia, according to a search warrant filed this week in the state District Court in Santa Fe.

The search, executed Feb. 21, comes as one of the defendants in the case, Jordan Nuñez, awaits trial in November for his alleged role in Jeremiah’s killing. Nuñez, 20, is accused of helping his late father, 42-year-old Thomas Ferguson, beat Jeremiah to death.

After Ferguson, who had been charged with first-degree murder, took his own life in a jail cell in April, prosecutors shifted their focus to Nuñez, saying he might have dealt the fatal blow to the boy. He faces a charge of child abuse resulting in death and other counts in the case.

Sheriff’s deputies found Jeremiah’s body in a shallow grave near his home in Nambé in January 2018. Investigators believe the boy had been tortured with items including a homemade spear, a hammer and an electric shock collar, and that he had been kept in a dog kennel.

Toxicology reports showed the boy also had methamphetamine and alcohol in his system when he died.

Jeremiah’s mother, Tracy Ann Peña, 36, struck a plea deal with prosecutors in November, admitting to child abuse resulting in death and other charges, and agreed to serve 12 years in prison. Her sentencing has been delayed until after Nuñez’s trial.

During the course of the investigation, she helped detectives find her son’s burial site and other evidence.

In an October interview, Peña gave investigators details about the abuse of Jeremiah and said Nuñez willingly participated, the search warrant affidavit said.

The new search warrant for the truck — which had belonged to Ferguson and also had been used by Nuñez — was prompted by Peña’s statement and a review of photographs taken from a previous search of the vehicle in 2018, the affidavit said.

Investigators recovered a cordless drill, a gardening tool, canine shock collars and other items in the new search, writing in the affidavit that the drill and collar might have been used to “punish, torture and confine” Jeremiah, and that the gardening tool could have been used to help dig a shallow grave for the boy.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.