A 27-year-old Texas man is facing murder charges after police say he stuffed his girlfriend's baby into a backpack and left her in the trunk of his car for more than five hours.
On Tuesday morning, Trevor Rowe picked up 10-month-old Marion Jester-Montoya from the apartment he shares with his girlfriend, the baby's mother. He then took her to his job site, police said.
Marion's family told BuzzFeed News that Rowe works for the mother's family as a roofer.
At first, Rowe put the baby in a backpack and put her on the front passenger seat floorboard for several hours, checking on her periodically, he told Lubbock police in his arrest warrant. At one point, she had crawled out of the backpack, so he put her back inside.
Around lunchtime, he returned to the car and saw that Marion was still breathing, but crying. He zipped up the backpack and went and got some fast food. After his break, he moved the baby, still zipped up, into his trunk through the backseat, where she was left for five hours, police said.
When he came back around 5 p.m., Marion had stopped breathing. Rowe then called 911 and drove to an intersection, where he attempted CPR and waited for an ambulance, according to his statement to police.
First responders took the baby to University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Police took Rowe into custody after he told them that he had put her in a backpack and left her in his car for nearly the entire day. He is currently at the Lubbock County Detention Center on a warrant for capital murder. His bond is set at $2 million, police said.
Marion's father, Emilio Montoya, told BuzzFeed News he had reached out to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services twice over the past several months because of bruises, rashes, and other concerning issues regarding his daughter after she spent time at her mother's and Rowe's.
"I told the DFPS worker that one day I am going to get a call that something bad was going to have happened to my daughter and I don't want to get that call," he said. "I had shown them text messages, pictures, and nothing happened."
EverythingLubbock.com reported that Rowe had previously been arrested in 2018 for leaving his two children unattended, but the charge was dropped. Montoya told BuzzFeed News that Rowe had left his young daughter and son at home alone and they set off the security alarm.
In correspondence reviewed by BuzzFeed News, Montoya, 26, had called the agency to report an aggressive diaper rash. In an ongoing text conversation with a caseworker, the father explained that the baby's mother had been kicked out of her apartment for not paying rent and was moving back in with Rowe, which was concerning to him.
He sent the caseworker photos of bruises on his baby's head, neck, and bottom.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesperson for the agency, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that "there was prior involvement with DFPS but the details are being investigated."
"A criminal investigation is also underway and we are cooperating with authorities," he said.
Montoya said that the last time he saw his daughter, "she clung on to me and screamed" when he dropped her off at her mother's.
"There was nothing I could do," he said.
Marion would have turned 1 on Feb. 10. The family was planning a Minnie Mouse–themed birthday party.
"She was a very smart and happy baby," Montoya said. "She was learning to walk and she could walk the couch to the screen window and loved to look at the dogs."
She loved to "catch the cat" and watch him play video games, but had to hold the "the same controller I had."
"She always knew that I was dad," he said. "Every time I called, she would scream 'Dada' into the phone."
The family has set up a fundraiser to help pay for Marion's funeral expenses.