Veronica T. Herrera told Nampa and Homedale police that she was scared and freaked out about the possibility of losing custody of her other children, so she decided to burn the toddlers body, according to court documents obtained by the Idaho Statesman on Monday.
Herrera said Nakita, who just turned 2, jumped off her potty chair during training Wednesday and hit her head on a heater. The 29-year-old Herrera said that led to Nakitas death hours later.
To make sure that no one found Nakita, Herrera told police, she put the body in a barrel behind her house on Washington Street and started a blaze Thursday morning that burned for as long as two days. Herrera told police that she had her other children put garbage in the barrel to keep the fire going.
Early Saturday afternoon, Herrera walked up to an officer outside a Nampa police station. Crying, she told the officer that she did something bad, that her child was hurt and that she made it worse, according to documents.
Later, Herrera told a Nampa police detective that God will never forgive her for what she has done, according to probable cause documents obtained by the Statesman.
Herrera is being held in the Owyhee County Jail on a felony charge of destruction of evidence while police and prosecutors investigate. Owyhee County Prosecutor Doug Emery said Monday that he charged Herrera with what the evidence supported, but said more charges are possible.
Court documents identify Nakita as the victim, but Owyhee County Coroner Aaron Tines said Monday that he would need more forensic tests to make a positive identification of the burned remains.
The case is being investigated by Homedale and state police.
Records show that Herrera had been in court over foster care issues with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare three times as of last November, but it is unclear why. According to documents filed in Owyhee County, Herrera has at least two other kids younger than 10.
Details in the court documents are graphic.
The Nampa police officer who first talked to Herrera on Saturday was working on an unrelated car crash when she walked up to him and was hysterical while telling him that her daughter died and that police would never find the body. The officer asked Herrera to come inside.
Police say Herrera kept her hands over her face and cried while telling detectives what happened. Herrera told police that she had her 8-year-old daughter watching Nakita while the 2-year-old was on the potty, but Nakita kept being fussy, so Herrera said she tried to get the toddler to calm down. Herrera said Nakita kept trying to throw herself off the potty chair and eventually did leap off and hit the left side of her head by her ear on the heater.
Herrera told police that she took Nakita and put her in a playpen and asked her 9-year-old son to watch her while she took an unspecified number of other children to her sisters house in Caldwell. Herrera said she called her son later that day to check on Nakita and her son said the toddler was sleeping.
Herrera said that when she came home that night, she noticed a large bump and cut on Nakitas head and figured out the toddler was not breathing.
Herrera told police that she put the toddlers body in the back of her van that night. The next morning, she walked to the store, bought some lighter fluid, put the body in the barrel and set it aflame.
Herrera told police that she didnt think any of her other kids saw her put the body in the barrel, but did say that her 9-year-old son is a smart kid and might have known.
Herrera said she kept the fire going for 24 hours but saw some remains were still inside Friday morning, so she returned to the store for more lighter fluid, according to the documents.
Herrera also told police that she lied to Nakitas father, saying when he called to ask about the toddler that Nakita was staying at her parents house in Nampa.
Herrera told police that she confessed to them after telling her parents what happened. They drove her to the police station on Saturday.
Court records dont indicate where Herreras other kids were on Monday. Homedale Police Chief Jeff Eidemiller did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Patrick Orr: 377-6219, Twitter: @IDS_Orr