On the evening of July 25 LVMPD Detective Monique Bulmer, accompanied by a male officer, Enrique Hernandez, arrived at the hospital to offer Gonzales another opportunity to take the polygraph test. Too late to
reach her attorney, Gonzales wasn’t sure if she should take it or not, so she called her parents in Altadena, CA to ask what they thought she should do. They could hear Hernandez in the background saying, “We’re not telling her she has to take it. It’s entirely up to her.” Unsure themselves of what was the correct thing to do, her family advised her to do as her attorney had instructed.
Upon hanging up the phone, Rhiannon Gonzales was arrested from her son’s bedside at Children’s Hospital Nevada to face criminal charges of Child Abuse. She did not resist arrest, yet Hernandez felt the need
to use unnecessary excessive force on Gonzales shoving her to the ground. Ironically enough, after her arrest, she was never given a drug or polygraph test; obviously the general consensus of that being that the powers against her were afraid she might pass.
It would be discovered only by accident, much later, that Detective Bulmer had opened Gonzales’ juvenile record in order to be able to arrest her, despite the fact that there was no violence in her history. It would also be discovered upon reading the Unity Case Notes that Detective Bulmer had reported to CPS that ‘neurosurgeon (Garber) said that injuries were not consistent with explanation, but that another doctor, name unknown, had advised Detective Heidi Campbell that it was possible that baby could have sustained injury by falling and landing on the baby gate that was on the floor next to the bed.’
One would consider this conflict in medical evaluations to fall well within the “beyond the shadow of a doubt” parameters; however, the unnamed doctor was never referred to again, nor were the results of subsequent tests that were conducted to ascertain whether or not the baby had been the victim of abuse. One such result of the fax sent to CPS by Children’s Hospital Nevada social worker Dr. Cynthia Hull, clearly states: “There are no healing fractures or post-traumatic deformities to indicate non-accidental trauma.” This document also
escaped mention in any of the reports or court proceedings.
According to the Unity Case Notes, there are two entries, the first on July 17 and again on July 23, indicating that Detective Bulmer was not satisfied with the testing conducted at University Medical Center and had provided a prescription for a full skeletal exam at Sunrise Hospital. Yet, those were the only entries made in regard to the additional tests, as there was no documentation of any results. As of this writing, contact was made with the foster family, who verified that the tests were indeed conducted. Yet, Gonzales’ Attorney John
Piro never received any documentation regarding those results. One can only speculate that the reason for omission of the Sunrise Hospital results was because they were contrary to what Bulmer was hoping for.
On July 26 Elgin was released from University Medical Center — Children’s Hospital Nevada to the care of a foster family. His own family had no idea where their baby was. It was about this time when someone called the family’s attention to a news article about the brokering of minority children in Nevada.
Gonzales’ was not present at Family Court on July 29. Her attorney Denise Gallagher also stood in to represent Eugene, who had spoken at length behind closed doors with CPS workers Paula Moore, Elizabeth Stump and Sherrie Litman, maintaining that Gonzales would never hurt her child. It was obvious by this point that Child Development Specialist Violeta Menjivar was not going to have to account for her actions and that the burden of proof was to prove innocence, instead of guilt. Gallagher informed Family Court Hearing Master Thomas Kurtz
that Gonzales had been arrested and charged with child abuse, then asked if the baby could possibly be released to a family member in California instead of remaining in the foster system. CPS Investigator Paula Moore had no objection, but did explain that the process to transfer from one state to another took a long time. Moore also granted permission for the family to visit with Elgin at Child Haven that afternoon.
Despite the questionable removal and investigation conducted by CPS, they did do an excellent job of pairing the baby with a young family who had a 20-month-old son of their own, and were also first-time foster parents. So, at least the family’s apprehension at their baby being in foster care was laid to rest, although they were still not allowed any medical information as to the baby’s condition.
It appeared that with the arrest of Gonzales, Moore had begun to treat the family with a bit more respect, although she continued to decline all invitations extended by grandmother to come and inspect the apartment for herself, as Moore was not among the group present at the apartment the day of the accident. Moore stated that a visit by her would only be necessary once the family was reunited. Grandmother thought it strange that the investigator had no interest in seeing the scene of the accident, but by this point was already becoming
accustomed to how things were handled in Las Vegas.
Saturday, August 10, Gonzales’ mother receives a call from Gonzales’ attorney John Piro saying that he would be going to Los Angeles the following weekend and was hoping to be able to meet with Iyanna while he was there. The family was very pleased with the idea of not making her return to Las Vegas. Iyanna would tell him that there was one particular neighbor on the day of the accident (Isaacs) who tried to tell CPS workers that Gonzales was not an abusive parent, stating that she should know because they lived in such close proximity to one another that she would have heard sounds of child abuse if there had been any. This neighbor was ignored and her statements were omitted from the CPS report.
Gonzales’ bail, set originally at $20,000.00, was reduced the following day to $10,000.00 and raised again the next to $50,000.00, where it remained, despite a plea for a bail reduction by Gonzales’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender John Piro at Clark County Justice Court on August 13. Piro clarified to Justice Court Judge Diane
Sullivan that Gonzales was a former social work student with plans to continue at UNLV and pointed out that there were many false statements contained in the Police Report supplied by Detective Bulmer. Piro originally asked for Gonzales’ release on her own recognizance before requesting the bail reduction. However, Chief Deputy District Attorney Dena Rinetti, a tall young woman in a bright green blazer who shouted and flailed her arms indignantly, convinced Judge Sullivan that because Gonzales had been arrested still carrying her California driver’s license, it was evident that she had no intention of ever becoming a contributing member to the Las Vegas community. Rinetti added that in her opinion $50,000.00 bail was not high enough, then stormed out of the courtroom just as quickly and loudly as she had stormed in.
Gonzales had sent off for a copy of her birth certificate so that she could get a Nevada license on July 9, but the State of New Mexico, where she was born, had been slow in responding to that request. There was a copy of said request, but it was not present in the courtroom at the time of the assumption. The birth certificate did not arrive until weeks later.
So Gonzales remained incarcerated, while her family continued to pay rent on an empty apartment. Apparently the CPS and LVMPD “angels of mercy” do not extend their consideration to the well-being of family pets, as Gonzales’ Shih Tzu, Oreo, was left in the apartment alone for several days following her arrest.