Family prays for end to child abuse at vigil
PORT LAVACA - A benchtop filled with photographs capturing the many smiles of Xadrian Martinez was the backdrop for a candlelight vigil to celebrate the life of the 6-year-old boy who died Wednesday.
"We gather here to night to fight against child abuse; it's very heart-wrenching," said Houston Johnston, a youth pastor with New Beginnings Church in Port Lavaca.
Johnston was looking out at a crowd of about 100 people, many wracked with grief as they came forward with handmade signs to ask for justice, prayers and to stand up against child abuse. One sign in particular had the words, "it shouldn't hurt to be a child," neatly written across it.
Another written with the hopes of bringing comfort to the broken heart of Xadrian's father read, "Our tears will build a staircase to heaven."
Close family friends, Miranda Ramirez and her wife, Olivia, held their children a little closer that night, unable to imagine losing one so suddenly.
"I wrote that because I wanted them to know that he is watching down on them from heaven," Miranda Ramirez said.
Xadrian was living with his mother, Nancy Rae Martinez, and her live-in boyfriend, Albert VIllarreal, in Corpus Christi, when medics were called to their home in the 2500 block of Fig Street about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The call came in as a reported seizure, and young Xadrian was taken to an area hospital, where he died shortly after.
According to the article, which cites an affidavit, the couple told officers Xadrian had a seizure, fell and hit his head. But his 8-year-old sister told officials at the hospital another story. She said Villarreal hit her brother and choked him after he had soiled his clothing and then slammed him against the refrigerator, according to the affidavit.
Martinez and Villarreal were booked in the Nueces County Jail on suspicion of capital murder charges. Their bails are set at $1 million each.
Xadrian's father and family in Port Lavaca are now fighting to bring Xadrian's body back to Port Lavaca to be buried.
"Two monsters took him away from me," his grandmother Elena Saenz Madrigal cried Sunday night. "He was a happy little boy. He loved to give kisses."
Xadrian's father, Ruben Saenz, gave a poetic goodbye to his son as well. He spoke about the moment he found out he was going to be a father and how he immediately felt love grow inside of him. He spoke about the first time he met his son. Xadrian was 6 months old.
"The first thing I did is I went to you, and I picked you up, and you smiled," Saenz said through tears.
Saenz got to take his son that day and shared about all the two did.
"We went everywhere," he said. "We did everything. we played, and I sang to you."
And now, he said he is lost.
For the past six years, Saenz and his family have tried to gain custody of Xadrian and had momentarily gained custody when he was 11 months old, when he was removed from his mother's home by Child Protective Services.
The last time they saw him was August 2013.
They found out about his death by watching the news.
Sunday night, friends and family said good-bye by holding white candles toward the sky and releasing many balloons.
"I'm so sorry I couldn't protect you," Saenz openly prayed to his son. "I couldn't take your pain away - this destroyed me, son. You're my best friend. As I taught you, you taught me. As I was your hero, you were mine. You saved me; you opened my eyes.
"I pray, and I pray they let you come home, son. I just want to hold you one last time."