FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The grandparents of a young Arizona boy charged in the shooting deaths of his father and another man told police that if any 8-year-old was capable of the crimes, their grandson was.
In documents released Wednesday by the Apache County prosecutor's office, St. Johns police Chief Roy Melnick said that Liz Romero, also known as Liz Castillo, shouted out angrily when she was told the boy would be arrested in the Nov. 5 killings.
"I knew this would happen," she said. "They were too hard on (the boy). I knew (the boy) did it. He spent the night in my bed cuddling up to me. I had a feeling he did it. If any 8-year-old boy is capable of doing this it's (the boy)."
The boy's grandfather, Leroy Romero, echoed the statement and pushed his ex-wife to tell police more. But Melnick said she was overcome with emotion and he and another officer were asked to leave.
Before they did, Liz Romero said the boy's stepmother, who he was living with, "had a feeling (the boy) did it." as well.
Police have said the boy planned and methodically carried out the killings of his father, 29-year-old Vincent Romero and 39-year-old Timothy Romans, who rented a room in the family's two-story home in the small eastern Arizona community of St. Johns.
A status conference in the case is scheduled Dec. 8.
In a police interview released last week, the boy said he had been spanked five times the night before the shootings because he did not bring home some papers from school. And according to the latest documents, the boy told a state Child Protective Services worker that his 1,000th spanking would be his last.
In an affidavit for a search warrant, Sgt. Lucas Rodriguez writes that the boy "is believed to have made ledgers and or communicated in the form of writings about his intentions," saying the boy tallied the spankings on a piece of paper.
Melnick had alluded to a possible number system earlier this month but did not discuss a motive. A gag order issued in the case prevents law enforcement, attorneys and state agencies from discussing much of the case.
The boy's defense attorney, Benjamin Brewer, said Wednesday that the boy's grandmother likely was stressed and that he would interview her to see what she has to say.
Prosecutors released the documents as part of a public records request. The release of the 911 transcript, police reports and search warrants came on the day the boy was freed from juvenile detention to spend Thanksgiving with this biological mother, Eryn Bloomfield.
In the documents, officers describe a boy with a quiet demeanor, who initially was not considered a suspect in the case. In the hourlong police interview, the boy first said he did not shoot a gun the night of the killings but later admitted to firing at least two shots at each of the men.
Documents show that Romero was shot four times, and Romans was shot six times.
In a report, St. Johns police officer Ramon Morales said he saw the boy in the Apache County courthouse on Nov. 7 — two days after the double homicide. Morales was sending a text message at the time, and the boy asked if he could look at Morales' cell phone.
"He then said 'My lawyer has a phone like that and my dad had one, too, but he's not going to need it, he's not coming back."' Morales wrote in the report.
Judge Michael Roca granted a 48-hour furlough to the boy last week during a hearing in Apache County over the objection of prosecutors. The boy is to return to custody by noon Friday or an arrest warrant will be issued for the boy and Bloomfield, Roca has said.
The boy's travels previously were restricted to St. Johns, but Roca issued an order Tuesday saying the boy could travel within a 120-mile area in southern Apache County, court administrator Betty Smith said.
Roca has said stipulated that there be no guns, knives, video games or cable television in the home where the boy is staying.
"I think everything will be OK," Brewer said. "I think steps were taken to ensure that. I'm comfortable with his visit, and hopefully he'll have a good time out there."