LUBBOCK, Texas — A Texas man was arrested Wednesday and charged in the death of his girlfriend’s 10-month-old daughter, who police allege was “crammed” into a backpack and left in his car trunk for hours as he went about his work day.
Trevor Marquis Rowe, 27, of Lubbock, is charged with capital murder in the death of Marion Rebecca Jester-Montoya. According to jail records, he is being held on bail of $2 million.
Lubbock police officials said officers were called shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday to a call of a child who wasn’t breathing. Paramedics took the girl to University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Police officials said in a news release that Rowe picked Jester-Montoya up from her mother at the home they shared and took her to work with him. According to the affidavit, he “crammed” the girl into a backpack and left her on the front passenger floorboard of his car, checking on her periodically through the morning.
“After his lunch break, Rowe moved the child through the backseat pass through to the trunk,” the news release said. “Several hours later, Rowe checked on the child and found that she was not breathing.”
Rowe called 911 and drove to a rural intersection, where he began CPR and waited for paramedics, authorities said.
The arrest affidavit said when Rowe checked on Jester-Montoya during the morning, he found that she had wiggled her way out of the backpack. He returned her to the bag, zipped it up and went back to work, continuing to check on her occasionally.
After he ate, he placed the backpack in the trunk with the girl still zipped inside. He left her there for more than five hours.
When he finished work at 5 p.m. and returned to the car, Jester-Montoya was no longer breathing, investigators said.
Rowe, who is not the girl’s father, was arrested in her death after he admitted stuffing her into the backpack and leaving her in the car all day, the news station reported.
They said they believe if Montoya had been granted custody, Jester-Montoya would still be alive.
Montoya said the Texas Department of Child Protective Services had been called three times over concerns about the situation in the home Rowe shared with Jester-Montoya, his own children and Jester-Montoya’s mother. Montoya made two of the calls himself, the news station reported.
The first call to CPS was placed after Montoya took his daughter to the emergency room because she would not stop crying, he told Fox34. Tests came back positive for methamphetamine.
A second call was placed by another person concerned over the conditions at the home.
“Trevor Rowe’s house is filthy, messy, there’s poop everywhere, his kids (are) filthy and literally roll in dog poop at his house,” Montoya told Fox34.
Montoya made the third call to CPS after Jester-Montoya developed a bleeding rash down her leg.
The grieving father said he saw the dangerous path his daughter was being forced upon.
“This is getting progressively worse and I’m going to get a call one day and that something bad is going to happen and I don’t want that call,” Montoya told the news station. “Something needs to be done now.”
That call came Tuesday evening, the Montoya family said.
Jester-Montoya’s grandmother, Sheilah Montoya, told CBS7 when Rowe arrived to pick Jester-Montoya up, the girl “immediately started screaming and grabbing (Sheilah)” as though she was afraid to go with him.
Sheilah Montoya wrote Wednesday on Facebook that the family had “lost (their) precious angel.”
“I just want to hold you and rock you and give you kisses,” Sheilah Montoya wrote. “I miss you, little mommas. “My and your daddy’s life will never be the same. This should have never happened.”
Jester-Montoya’s death is the second blow to the family in the past eight months. The girl’s grandfather, Ramon Montoya, died May 4 at the age of 63.
His obituary indicated that his then-2-month-old granddaughter was one of the delights of his life.
“I’ve lived a good life,” the obituary quoted him saying shortly before he died. “I got to see the world. I’ve done things others only dream of doing and will never have the chance to do.
“I have three beautiful kids, I have three grandsons and a brand-new granddaughter, and nothing could make me any happier.”
Katrina Montoya, Jester-Montoya’s aunt, did not mince words in multiple Facebook posts, lashing out at Rowe and Jester-Montoya’s mother, who was identified only as Veronica. She called Rowe a “sorry piece of (expletive).”
CBS7 reported that court records show Jester-Montoya’s death is not the first time Rowe has been accused of mistreating children. He was arrested in 2018 and charged with endangering the welfare of a child after police said he left his two children unattended at his home.
Rowe told police he used a bicycle to go for food while the children were asleep. He said he was gone for about 30 minutes.
Court records indicate officers called CPS, but no caseworkers were located to respond to the home, CBS7 reported.
The news station said the charges against Rowe were later dropped.
Katrina Montoya wrote on Facebook that Jester-Montoya’s mother was “even sorrier” than Rowe because she did not protect the girl.
“You should have just let Emilio have her,” Katrina Montoya wrote. “He wanted her, and he took good care of her, and he loved her.”
She wrote that her niece was a good baby who “deserved the world.”
Katrina Montoya also castigated CPS workers, who the family alleges failed in their job to protect Jester-Montoya.
CPS officials confirmed that they were involved with Jester-Montoya and the family prior to the baby’s death, but did not give details of that involvement, Fox34 reported. They said the agency is conducting a joint investigation with police.
Emilio Montoya said the agency needs to be held responsible for its role in his daughter’s death.
“I don’t care if this takes 20 years or 50,” Emilio Montoya told the station. “I will be on them til the end of time.”
As for Rowe’s fate, his wishes are simple.
“I hope he never gets out,” Emilio Montoya said. “I hope Veronica feels the same way. I know she’s defended him on a lot of other things, but I don’t think she can defend him anymore.”
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