An Anaheim woman was sentenced to nearly 15 years in prison for torturing her stepdaughter and abusing three other children in her household.
Mayra Chavez, 33, was sentenced Friday to seven years to life, plus another seven years and 10 months for torturing her 10-year-old stepdaughter, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Chavez was also found guilty of abusing three other children, including another stepdaughter and two of her own kids.
Court documents said the young girl was found severely tortured with a “broken neck, bone sticking out of an unhealed sore, and bruises from head to toe as a result of months of increasingly humiliating and brutal cruelty.”
The girl weighed only 50 pounds and was unresponsive when she was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Orange County in August 2022, the DA’s Office said. She was taken to the hospital by her father, Domingo Junior Flores, who told hospital staff the girl had hurt herself and fallen down the stairs.
A nurse told officers it was the worst case of trauma and child abuse she had ever seen.
Flores and Chavez were arrested by the Anaheim Police Department as emergency room staff worked to revive the girl.
When officers searched the couple’s Anaheim apartment, they discovered zip ties throughout the home. Police had previously been called out to the residence for a welfare check after family members became concerned about the young girl.
Police body cam footage from that visit showed Chavez “laughing and pointing to all of the food that was in the refrigerator and on countertops,” when she was reportedly questioned by officers.
What police didn’t realize was the little girl had been zip-tied to a bed in one of the apartment’s bedrooms, authorities said.
During the trial hearing, witnesses provided graphic details of the abuse the little girl suffered at the hands of her stepmother, including being forced to kneel on raw rice and tin cans while her hands and legs were hogtied, being plunged face-first into a bathtub full of ice while zip-tied, and having a habanero pepper rubbed into her eyes.
The other three children who were also victimized by Chavez were seen sobbing on the witness stand as they described being forced to zip-tie their sister to the bed while witnessing Chavez abuse her, court documents said.
In a courtroom filled with family and friends dressed in purple, the little girl’s favorite color, the 10-year-old, with a glittery purple walker by her side, read from a handwritten victim impact statement telling Chavez, “I hope you die.”
The young girl’s biological mother spoke of the horror of seeing her emaciated daughter at the pediatric ICU where she was “skin and bones, bruises and scabs.”
“She was the personification of a whisper,” her mother said, explaining her daughter’s body was so broken she worried that any noise would shatter her.
The girl’s mother later described the life they now live after being reunited.
“We sleep in soft beds with fluffy blankets surrounded by more pillows than we can count,” the mother said in court. “We take warm baths – not baths filled with ice. We throw bath bombs. We frost cupcakes and have movie nights. We play in our backyard whenever we want to – and sit in the warmth of the sun. We’re making up for lost time. They not only survived; they triumphed.”
Before Chavez’s sentencing, Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner read a lengthy statement detailing the abuse while calling Chavez a “bridge troll” and a “demon” in what he described as the most horrific case he had ever presided over.
Chavez was convicted in October of one felony count of torture, two felony counts of child abuse and endangerment, and one felony enhancement of causing great bodily injury. She was also found guilty of a lesser assault offense involving her 17-year-old son.
Flores, the little girl’s father, is awaiting trial on one felony count of torture, two felony counts of child abuse and endangerment, one misdemeanor count of felony child abuse and endangerment, and one felony enhancement of causing great bodily injury.
Previously, Flores had been engaged in a lengthy child custody battle with the mother of his two eldest daughters, in which he was awarded full custody. This took place despite “numerous court order violations being reported to authorities and multiple interactions with county social workers alleging abuse,” according to the DA’s office.
O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced he will be launching a review into the systematic failures that prevented the discovery of the girl’s abuse.
“This methodical and diabolical torture of children was normalized in this household to the point these children thought it was their fault that they were being abused,” Spitzer said. “The system failed this little girl. The system failed her siblings. Help was on the other side of the door, but over and over again, help didn’t come for this little girl until it was almost too late. Despite all of the horror these children had to endure and the darkness that they were forced to live in, they are the true personification that good will always overpower evil and that light will eradicate darkness. We will get to the bottom of how this happened and what can be done to prevent another child from suffering the fate of what these children suffered at the hands of the very people who were supposed to protect them.”