Tabetha Van Holtz & Steven Gallegos

Tabetha Van Holtz and Steven Gallegos
Crimes: Child Abuse Resulting in Death

A month before Leland Valdez turned 3, his father, Andrew Valdez, discovered that the toddler’s body was covered in bruises. Naturally he asked the boy what had happened. His reply was, “My (mommy) hit me.”

Andrew Valdez did the right thing — he reported the abuse of his boy to the Children, Youth and Families Department and the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office in New Mexico. Tragically the caseworkers at CYFD did the wrong thing — they did not substantiate findings of abuse. The detectives didn’t do much at all.

How could they not act? The boy was covered in bruises! There were injuries on his back, neck, legs, arms and chest. Andrew Valdez took photos which he handed over to CYFD and the sheriff’s office. The boy could clearly identify the person who hurt him — his mother, Tabetha Van Holtz.

I cannot fathom the inaction of the CYFD. Maybe they figured the allegation of abuse was part of the nasty 2-year battle over custody and child support being fought by Andrew Valdez and Tabetha Van Holtz.

The lack of official action to remove Leland Valdez from his unsafe environment and charge his abusers ultimately cost the toddler his life.

Leland Valdez

Leland Valdez

Andrew Valdez had sought, and was granted, a temporary order of protection against Tabetha Van Holtz in August 2010, right after he documented and reported the abuse. He was granted temporary physical custody of Leland and his 4-year-old sister.

In September 2010, a judge ordered the children to live with their grandparents. In October 2010, Andrew Valdez failed to show up for a court hearing because he was behind in child support payments and would be arrested. In December 2010, he again failed to show up for an emergency court hearing because, according to him, he “didn’t have a clue” that a hearing had been set.

Because he was a no-show, the judge accepted Tabetha Van Holtz’s claim that the abuse allegations were false. The CYFD investigation was closed and that seemed to confirm her side of the story. There was no report from the Sante Fe County Sheriff’s Office about the bruising because it hadn’t even been filed yet.

The custody of the children was given back to the abusive mother, and she took custody on Christmas Eve.

Poor little Leland Valdez wound up in the “care” of his mother AND her boyfriend, Steven Gallegos in Pojoaque, New Mexico. Tragically, it seems both of them participated in the escalating abuse of the toddler, and neither of them did a thing to save Leland until it was way too late. They are both heartless hellbeasts, IMO.

Leland Valdez

(Courtesy Andrew Valdez/KOAT)

On January 24, 2011 — a mere month after his mother got custody of him — Leland Valdez was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe. He was covered in bruises and abrasions, old and new. He had severe head injuries. Not surprisingly, considering his injuries, he was unresponsive and vomiting.

The story that Tabetha Van Holtz and Steven Gallegos told was that Leland had fallen off of a kitchen chair and began to suffer from seizures and convulsions. Bullshit. Just look at his picture! That’s no fall off a damned chair!

The staff at the medical center contacted the sheriff’s office right away. Because the boy had injuries in “different stages of the healing process” they knew the mother’s story had to be a lie.

It was at this stage, with little Leland lying close to death, that CYFD told Andrew Valdez that they were transferring custody to him. Holy crap, that is so pathetic!

It just makes me sick that CYFD did absolutely nothing useful in the months leading up to that point, and only acted when Leland was on his deathbed.

On January 26, 2011, Leland Valdez died at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, where he’d been airlifted for treatment for his severe head injuries.

The state Office of the Medical Investigator determined the boy had been beaten to death and had died from “homicidal violence”.

Steven GallegosWhen Steven Gallegos was arrested, he told investigators that he had anger management problems. He said he was taking medication for it. He further said he only takes his anger out on adults, “never on kids or animals”. Riiight.

Steven Gallegos, 20, and a pregnant Tabetha Van Holtz, 22, were arrested and charged with 1st-degree child abuse resulting in death.

And don’t you know, after Leland Valdez died the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office finally filed the report about suspected abuse and bruising. Pathetic.

Steven Gallegos and Tabetha Van Holtz did not face trial for 1st-degree child abuse resulting in death. Unfortunately for the prosecution, a second pathology report classified the manner of death as “undetermined”. That was a major blow because it might have opened the door to reasonable doubt.

The prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Tim Williams, played safe and decided to offer the evil pair plea deals. Tabetha Van Holtz jumped at it but Steven Gallegos didn’t.

Steven Gallegos had a hard time taking the plea deal that called for him to serve 18 years for child abuse resulting in death and three years for child abuse. He rejected it initially, but faced 3 counts of negligent child abuse and 1 count of intentional child abuse resulting in death.

“Mr. Gallegos feels he is completely innocent of these charges, and he does not want to plead guilty to anything,” his attorney Dan Marlowe said. “The plea fell apart because Mr. Gallegos does not feel he is guilty of this … and he wants his day in court.”

Dan Marlowe went on to say, “This is a courageous thing he is doing here, you have to prove your innocence … the public is hugely prejudiced against these type of charges from the very beginning.”

That is admittedly true. But where Steven Gallegos hesitated, Tabetha Van Holtz was happy to snap up her plea deal.

Tabetha Van HoltzIn March 2014, the abusive hellbitch entered guilty pleas to only 1 count of child abandonment resulting in great bodily harm and 1 count of abuse of a child in the death of Leland. In return she was required to testify “truthfully” against Steven Gallegos if his case went to trial. That was a sweet, sweet deal.

Tabetha Van Holtz faces a maximum prison sentence of only 9 years and a fine of up to $10,000. She should be sentenced this week. I shall keep readers posted — reminders are welcome.

It absolutely galls me that Tabetha Van Holtz, who Leland said had abused him, got the easiest of terms from the DA. All she had to do was point the finger of blame at her boyfriend. I cannot find anything in the press other than her say-so that Steven Gallegos inflicted the final injuries upon her battered son.

IMO, the photographic proof provided by Andrew Valdez that she had bruised Leland all over his little body in August 2010, and the statement Leland made that his mommy did it, should have added weight to her culpability. I think it’s very, very likely that she killed her boy.

I wonder why the DA was determined that Tabetha Van Holtz, the baby beater, was less guilty than her boyfriend.

That’s not to say I think Steven Gallegos is innocent and without guilt. No way! He was at the very least present when Leland was being horribly, repeatedly and then fatally battered. He did nothing, not one thing, to protect the boy. Any decent human being would have felt compelled to do something, but not Steven Gallegos.

Facing a trial with Tabetha Van Holtz ready and willing to blame it all on him, Steven Gallegos finally took the plea deal on July 21, 2014. He won’t serve the full 18 years. The plea deal included partial mitigation of 4 years, which reduces his sentence to 17 years. He’s already served 2½ years awaiting his trial.

“I wish he’d gotten a life sentence, but some time is better than no time,” Andrew Valdez said. I myself wish Tabetha Van Holtz had gotten a life sentence too.

The horrific death of Leland Valdez shook up the New Mexico establishment. Two case workers at CYFD were disciplined — one was suspended and the other was fired.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office acknowledged that they had not filed a timely report on Andrew Valdez’s complaint of abuse with the DA. How big of them to admit that. *snark*

“I tried telling them that he was living in an unsafe environment,” said Andrew Valdez said in an interview. “Nobody listened to us. Now he’s gone,” he said. “It feels like someone cut my heart out.”

Leland ValdezAndrew Valdez is suing the Sheriff’s office and county government for wrongful death. I wish him all the best with that.

“[Leland] was joyful. He was happy. He was always wanting to run around, play with his toy guns. And he loved to play basketball,” said Andrew Valdez. Leland was also loved and I’m sure much missed.

RIP Leland Valdez. I wish a safe, happy and successful life to his siblings — including the baby his mother gave birth to after him. I extend my condolences to those who loved Leland.

I shall keep fingers crossed that Tabetha Van Holtz receives the harshest sentence possible. Even the maximum under the plea deal is much too lenient for my liking. I hope she is never allowed near children again. I wish a lifetime of sterility upon her as well, so she cannot give birth to more victims.

To Steven Gallegos, I wish him no joy. Although I’m not satisfied that he himself had struck the fatal blows, I consider it hellbeastly that he didn’t seek help for Leland, and he conspired in lying to authorities about what actually happened.

And to the state of New Mexico, I hope they actively take steps to improve the training of their CYFD case workers and investigators regarding reports of child abuse. Leland Valdez did not need to die — if someone had just done their job he would still be alive and well!

KRQE News article
Albuquerque Journal article – guilty plea
Albuquerque Journal article – timeline
KOAT News article article – CYFD

16 Responses to Tabetha Van Holtz & Steven Gallegos

  1. BENGALPUSS says:

    Absolutely heartbreaking, that picture of that poor little angel Leland, and the bitch of a mother (i use that term loosely) is literally getting away with murder. The agency and police that didn’t do a proper job, should also be held accountable, because they also failed Leland.

  2. BENGALPUSS says:

    How, could she get away with 9years? she obviously won’t serve that full term, its disgusting that she can be given such a petty sentence for murdering her own child, is that all that leland was worth? she should be given life or the death penalty, how can someone kill a little boy who couldn’t defend himself? only a sick twisted evil bitch. I don’t get why the boyfriend is getting a bigger sentence? that’s just crazy, yes he should be punished for doing nothing to protect this child, but the bastard that beat this child to death should sit in a cell for life. I hope to god that she doesn’t get to keep this baby she is having, otherwise it doesn’t stand a chance with an evil pig like this as a mother, please give the baby to someone who will love and cherish it.

  3. moodymagic says:

    This is another very sad and upsetting article. Poor Leland deserved so much better in is short life. His HellBitch Cunt of a mother was the one that was suppose to protect this sweet angel. She should burn in hell. Long may she rot.

  4. 2cute says:

    Even if Steven Gallegos beat her boy to death, Tabetha Van Holtz is equally guilty because she was the mother – it was her job to protect her baby from harm. I hope she gets the max.

  5. PJ says:

    I don’t understand the woman. She fought for years for custody of her children just so she could bash them about? Why didn’t she just leave them with the grandparents and go on to have a new life with her boyfriend? I sure hope she never gets her clutches on her baby. R.I.P. little man.

    • awesomeblossom says:

      PJ I think the more she fought with her ex, the more she hated her ex, the more she wanted to hurt him. I think she took her escalating rage out on the boy since she had no other way of inflicting more pain on her ex.

    • AngryLittleMexican says:

      Yea bc it doesn’t state she harmed the 4 year old, seems she was really gunning for that boy and it makes the motive very personal. Sad.

  6. GirlFriday says:

    Cloe, good article. The photo of the mother-hellbeast reminds me of a case we had here a number of years ago: Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo – two sick f*cks who kidnapped and raped 3 young girls. She claimed he forced her and she was abused blah-blah-blah. The first victim was her little sister whom she drugged and offered up to her husband to rape. She died when she aspirated vomit. So, this POS “mom” is a psychopath and a danger to children. And she has that same dead-eyed look. RIP Leland.

    • Julie says:

      I am also from Canada and followed this story from beginning to end, and it angers me immensely that the bitch got away with murder and more. I am completely disgusted with the justice system in our country! And to think this bitch walks free with kids of her own after what she and that douchebag did to other peoples children! ugh!!

  7. cleo says:

    Dear readers, sorry there will be only 2 articles this week. The one I’m writing about is long and convoluted, and is taking up more of my time than I anticipated. Thanks for your patience!

    • Angry says:

      She was in a local college here taking classes to be a Medical Assistant. NO one knew what she had done……………..

  8. BENGALPUSS says:

    Oh i can’t wait cleo, i’m having hellbeasts withdrawal. Lol

  9. DecentPeopleOnly says:

    Women Child Abusers should Not get Special Privileges they should
    get Capital Punishment

    It is the Child’s Right Not to be Abused which Matters

  10. BeenThere says:

    My ex husband smacked my son (not his) in the face causing a nose bleed. I got home saw my boy heard his story. Grabbed a baseball bat went into the garage where asshole was working under the truck laying on a dolly. I beat the living shit out of his ass as he’s rolling to get away. Called my partner had his ass arrested filed a TRO & divorce.
    You touch my child I will fuck you until death. The shithead accused ME of being a druggie and unfit mother. Oh hell no..I asked the Judge for both of us to have RANDOM drug tests. They call and you test within 12 hours. I tested clean 12 months, he failed or didn’t test. Then I kept a journal and Per Judges order if he showed up without current license, insurance and registration he can’t have daughter. Every time he followed me, chases, threats, phone calls I taped, Windows broken, etc I wrote down. In one year he committed 188 attempt of court violations and my attorney filed. GUILTY of 185 via my testimony AND MY JOURNAL. 2-5 days per charge. Taken into custody after sentence and then we went into hiding. My LT. transferred to another county, rented a house, kids new schools and then waited watched and listened for 12 years. If you cant find me you can’t serve my. When our daughter turned my husband and I explained that he wasn’t her biological child and why.
    She said so what’s the problem and are you adopting me? No problem and hell yes.
    When she was 21 I filed for back support at $500 per month for twenty years after hearing he was injured at work and won $198,000 plus interest. I still receive $1300 a month via his SS and workers compensation and sign it over to my daughter. I told you touch my kid and I will FUCK you until death…

    • Timmsy says:

      Been there. rock lady!
      If only all children had such vigilant n courageous mother’s. ..I dare say this website would become obsolete

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