Last week’s death of a 5-year-old Davis girl, allegedly at the hands of her own mother, is not the first time the family involved has endured violence and tragedy.
The 1995 slaying of Dixon resident Rosa Talamantes, a single mother, left the youngest of her seven children — including Aquelin Crystal Talamantes, then just 11 years old — without a parent in their lives.
“It did affect them, because they lost a mom, the only provider that they had,” said Martin Ruiz, a retired Davis police chief and acquaintance of the Talamantes family. “The oldest daughter had to step in and take care of the younger ones.”
Eighteen years later, the family is grieving again with the death of Aquelin Talamantes’ daughter, Tatianna Garcia, as well as Talamantes’ arrest on suspicion of fatally assaulting her.
Tatianna’s body was found in the trunk of her mother’s car on Sept. 26 after Talamantes drove to a relative’s apartment in Sacramento from her South Davis home, where authorities believe the assault occurred.
Talamantes pleaded not guilty to the allegations against her at an arraignment hearing Monday. She is being held in Yolo County Jail without bail while awaiting an Oct. 15 preliminary hearing.
News of her arrest brought back distant memories for Ruiz, one of many Dixon residents who scoured the Solano County town when 48-year-old Rosa Talamantes went missing on the night of May 23, 1995.
Authorities suspected Talamantes’ boyfriend, Jose Navarro Yniquez, with whom Rosa Talamantes was last seen before she vanished. He was arrested the following day on suspicion of drunken driving, his shirt stained with blood that investigators later determined matched Talamantes’ blood type.
“We know he did it,” Dixon police Lt. Don Malloy told a reporter at the time. “He just won’t tell us where she is.”
Ruiz recalled that Talamantes’ disappearance was “big news for the community,” drawing search dogs, helicopters and even a psychic to take part in the monthlong hunt. But it was a farm worker who ultimately found her body in a ditch in rural Dixon, “not far from where (Yniquez) was staying.”
The case went to trial, resulting in a second-degree murder conviction for Yniquez. Now 66, he is incarcerated at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
Ruiz said Aquelin Talamantes and her siblings continued to live in Dixon after their mother’s death. Court records show she later moved to Yolo County, where she became involved in a custody battle with the father of her two children and ultimately won sole custody, despite the father’s claims that Talamantes had an “anger problem.”
According to police, Talamantes moved into her sister’s Glide Drive home with her son and daughter just a few weeks before Tatianna’s death.
“I knew of her, and definitely more so when they (Rosa’s children) were young, but after that we kind of lost contact,” Ruiz said. When he saw Aquelin Talamantes’ jail booking photo on the news last week, “it all of a sudden hit me how much time has gone by, and how all these kids have grown up.”
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene