CRIME

Abused homeless siblings get help, thanks to fast food workers

Apr 17, 2024, 10:01 PM | Updated: Apr 18, 2024, 10:06 am

TAYLORSVILLE — Employees at a Taylorsville restaurant expressed concern about a family that appeared to be in distress, which led to the arrest of a homeless man Tuesday who police say was abusing a woman’s two children. The mother was later taken into custody on suspicion of child abuse.

Rodolfo Martinez-Avila, 36, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated child abuse, child abuse, possession of drug paraphernalia and intoxication.

Taylorsville police were called to a Burger King located at 3975 W. 4700 South Tuesday by concerned employees who said a family “appeared to be homeless and in need of assistance,” according to a police booking affidavit. “Specifically, an employee told dispatch the 4-year-old child appeared to be malnourished and requesting help from staff.”

Sgt. Ryan Carver told KSL TV later that a passerby outside the restaurant saw Martinez-Avila grabbing the 4-year-old “in a way that didn’t sit right with them.” When they went inside, the employees heard the boy ask for help and called the police at approximately 2:15 p.m.

When officers arrived, they found Martinez-Avila “sitting at the table, face down, with drool running out of his mouth,” the affidavit states.

A 4-year-old boy had dried blood in his nostrils. A woman and a second child, approximately 6 months old, were also there.

“(Martinez-Avila) seemed confused by simple commands and statements, made continuous rapid movements and fidgets, and generally seemed unable to clearly articulate himself,” police noted in the affidavit.

The Burger King where Taylorsville Police arrested Rodolfo Martinez-Avila. (KSL TV)

When paramedics asked the 4-year-old if he had any injuries, the boy nodded “yes” and raised his shirt to show bruises on his chest, the affidavit says.

“The 4-year-old and 6-month-old were taken into the back of an ambulance. Officers documented numerous injuries on the 4-year-old, including bruising on both arms, his torso, and his back, a scratch on his stomach, and the aforementioned bloody nose. The 6-month-old appeared to be malnourished and had possible injuries,” the arrest report states.

“When asked who had caused his injuries, the 4-year-old said he was hurt by (Martinez-Avila),” according to the affidavit.

Both children were taken to Primary Children’s Hospital for further examination.

Carver said later that the 6-month-old was suspected to have had some internal bleeding.

The mother told police she had been dating Martinez-Avila for about two months and said he is not the father of either child.

“The female also told officers the family was homeless. Restaurant employees told officers they have seen the family before and try to give them free food because they are concerned about the children’s wellness,” the affidavit states.

While being questioned by officers, Martinez-Avila eventually claimed he had grabbed the 4-year-old boy by both arms that day, as well as admitting to using meth the day before, according to police.

Police noted that Martinez-Avila was deported several years ago and has since illegally returned to the United States.


Contributing: Mary Culbertson

KSL 5 TV Live

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Abused homeless siblings get help, thanks to fast food workers