Grandmother raises awareness about child abuse after the death of 5-year-old grandson

Tamera Anderson Aschendorf is fighting to get her granddaughter out of Costa Rica foster care.

The grandmother of a 5-year-old boy who was killed, allegedly at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, is raising awareness about child abuse and the need for grandparents to have better rights when it comes down to child abuse cases.
The grandmother of a 5-year-old boy who was killed, allegedly at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, is raising awareness about child abuse and the need for grandparents to have better rights when it comes down to child abuse cases.

SAN ANTONIO – The grandmother of a 5-year-old boy who was killed, allegedly at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, is raising awareness about child abuse and the need for grandparents to have better rights when it comes down to child abuse cases.

Tamera Anderson Aschendorf said she was devastated when she found out about the death of her grandson, Domenic Aguilar-Acevedo.

“I found out through social media before anything,” Aschendorf said. “This was hush hush with the FBI. I tried calling and they won’t give me any information about Domenic because I am not the blood grandmother, even though I have been there since birth. I was in shock that no one would call me. I just broke down. I literally hit the floor asking, ‘What is going on?’”

Aschendorf’s son raised Domenic and his biological daughter with Nickolle Aguilar. She said even after her son and Aguilar broke up, they have all stayed in the children’s lives

(Left) Daniel Garcia, 27, and Nickolle Christina Aguilar, 25, both face a felony charge of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury-death. (Palm Beach County/Miami-Dade County Sheriff's Offices) (KSAT)

An affidavit states that on July 24, Danial Garcia, Aguilar’s boyfriend, struck Domenic so hard that he hit the wall of a San Antonio hotel room before bouncing on the floor.

The next day, Domenic passed away from that fatal blow.

Authorities said Garcia and Aguilar drove to Colorado where they buried Domenic’s body before fleeing to Costa Rica with Garcia’s daughter.

After Aguilar and Garcia were tracked down and arrested, Aschendorf’s grandaughter was placed in foster care in Costa Rica.

“I don’t understand because she is a U.S. citizen why she was even left there,” Aschendorf said. “I tried to reach out to human resources, even the embassy there. You’ve got to fill out a bunch of paperwork. Make multiple phone calls. It has been a battle.”

She said she wants nothing more than to get her granddaughter back to the states.

“To think of her going through this and she saw everything and that was what was explained to me -- that the traumatization for her is why they put her in foster care to get her help. But it doesn’t make sense why she is not getting that help here in the United States,” Aschendorf said. I tried to call attorneys, and it is a no-win situation because she is in a different country now. Every day it is phone calls, phone calls, phone calls and who can help and who can help every day. I am still stuck.”

Aschendorf said she and Aguilar had a decent relationship before this year. Her children would visit on multiple occasions until she moved to San Antonio.

“Last time I reached out to her was in July when I was trying to get the kids,” Aschendorf said. “I found out through social media that she moved to Texas, so I reached out to her. She didn’t tell me anything, so I actually did a welfare check on her. The cops showed up to her home and told me she moved to Texas. She was upset with me that I called police to go to her home, and ever since then, she blocked me from everything.”

Aschendorf said she saw no signs of abuse taking place, and if she had, she would have done something about it.

Aguilar admitted to authorities that Garcia had been abusing Domenic for weeks before the fatal blow.

With her son still incarcerated, Aschendorf said she is working to be a power of attorney for her son so that she can get her granddaughter out of foster care in Costa Rica.”

In the meantime, she is raising awareness about child abuse.

“Please lets pay closer attention to our families,” she said. “Don’t be scared. Report it! Call someone and get help.”

Aschendorf has also started a petition that raises awareness about the need for grandparents to be able to step in for help without any red tape.

“I want people to sign this petition,” she said. “Think of all your grandchildren. We need to stop all of this abuse. This is for grandparents to step in when we need to stop things like this. This is absolutely devastating, and nobody should have to go through this.”

Aschendorf had this to say to both Aguilar and Garcia.

“I feel like he is a monster, but I have to pray,” she said. “Hate isn’t going to do any good. You have to pray. This is in God’s hands. Not in mine. So, it is up to God to do what he needs to do. I don’t understand why this happened. How anybody could be so mean to a 5-year-old boy who is a very happy boy. It doesn’t make no sense. But I am going to pray for them, and they need to pray for themselves.”

Garcia is in the Bexar County Jail on a $500,000 bond for injury to a child - serious bodily injury resulting in death. Aguilar is still awaiting extradition back to Bexar County to be formally charged.


About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.