An Anaheim woman has been convicted of torturing her 10-year-old stepdaughter and abusing three other children in what officials said was one of the worst cases of trauma and child abuse they’ve ever seen.
Mayra Chavez, 33, was found guilty Wednesday of one felony count of torture, two felony counts of child abuse and endangerment, and one felony enhancement of causing great bodily injury.
A news release issued by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office detailed the extreme and brutal injuries the 10-year-old suffered at the hands of her stepmother.
Chavez “engaged in humiliating, painful torture of [the] young girl, including forcing [her] to kneel on soup cans while hogtied for hours,” the DA’s Office said. The abuse left the young girl unable to walk for nine months with a broken neck, sores that exposed bones and injuries that required weekly surgeries.
An emergency room nurse apparently told police officers it was the worst case of trauma and child abuse she had ever seen.
The young 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 apparently told hospital staff that the girl harmed herself and fell down the stairs.
Flores and Chavez were arrested by the Anaheim Police Department as emergency room staff worked to revive the little girl.
When police searched their home, they recovered zip ties and obtained graphic witness testimony about the abuse the young girl endured at the hands of her stepmother. She was regularly hogtied and forced to kneel on tin cans or raw rice as a reminder to the children in the household to brush their teeth, she was plunged face-first into a bathtub full of ice water and was tortured with habanero peppers — her stepmother rubbed them into her eyes and vagina and forced her to bite into them, the DA’s Office said.
In addition to the abuse she inflicted upon the girl herself, Chavez also forced the girl’s siblings to join in.
At trial, the jurors heard testimony from three of the other children in the home who “sobbed on the witness stand as they described being forced to zip tie their sister to the bed and witnessing Chavez abuse her.”
Chavez was also convicted of abusing a second step-child, as well as two of her own biological children.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer called the abuse the girl endured “systematic and diabolical,” saying the violence inflicted upon her bringing some of the most experienced prosecutors and hospital staff to tears.
“She physically, mentally, and emotionally abused and humiliated this child for months and when that was not enough, she forced her other children to participate in the torture, forcing them to zip tie their sister to her bed frame and to ignore her cries for help,” Spitzer said in a release. “Child abuse cannot and will not be normalized. Horrific things happen behind closed doors and we remain more committed than ever as prosecutors and law enforcement officials to throw open those doors and shed light on the most vulnerable of victims who are suffering in silence.”
Spitzer credited the staff at Children’s Hospital of Orange County for saving the girl’s life.
Mayra Chavez faces a maximum sentence of 7 years to life in prison, plus an additional 10 years and four months in state prison. She is due back in court to face her sentence on Nov. 3.
Flores, the girl’s father, is awaiting trial on similar felony child abuse charges.