San Antonians calling for action, change after alleged child abuse deaths

After recent deaths of children in our area, some are saying more needs to be done to protect them.

SAN ANTONIO – Families and advocates against child abuse gathered at a West Side park Saturday evening to call for changes to reporting and investigating alleged abuse.

”James, Mercedes, Danilo, Dominic and King are just a few of the many names of children who’ve died in Bexar County from child abuse, but it’s time to come together as a community and start holding people and organizations accountable,” Jasmine Anderson, founder of KJ’s Angels, said in front of the crowd tonight.

An unmistakable message by Anderson -- more needs to be done to save children.

At Westwood Village Park, advocates against child abuse and families of alleged abuse victims made their voices heard.

”We feel like we’re trying, you know whether we call the police department or we call CPS, and it feels like we’re not being heard,” Mariesol Benavidez, James Chairez’ great aunt said.

Almost a year after his body was found, Benavidez is advocating for her great nephew.

In April 2021, James’ body was found in a bag at his mother D’Lanny Chairez’s trailer on the West Side.

D’Lanny is currently in jail facing a tampering with evidence charge.

Benavidez said she called SAPD and Child Protective Services multiple times about James’ welfare.

“Something has to be changed because obviously these phone calls are not working out,” Benavidez said.

Emily Losoya said the same. She’s Mercedes Losoya’s great aunt.

The 5-year-old died after alleged abuse on February 7th. Her mother Katrina Mendoza and mom’s boyfriend, Jose Ruiz, are both in jail facing one count of injury to a child - serious bodily injury.

”I feel like they could have saved Mercedes’ life just like they could have saved other kids lives,” Losoya said.

Both great aunts meeting for the first time Saturday night, bonding over love for children taken too soon.

“I love her for loving him the way I loved Mercedes’, you know,” Losoya said.

Losoya said don’t just say something if you see something -- do something.

If you see child abuse happening, you can reach the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services by calling 1-800-252-5400.

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About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.