In early January, the FBI and Texas Rangers were assisting Crosbyton Police in the search for a toddler believed to have been kidnapped. An Amber Alert was issued for two-year-old Leah Marie Aguirre.
However, later that same week the search abruptly ended. The girl's body was found stashed in the cellar of her caretaker's home. The caretaker Matilda Almaraz is facing multiple charges including capital murder.
Last month, the case takes another surprising turn. A former probation officer has filed a whistleblower lawsuit in connection to Leah's death.
Austin Attorney John Judge represents that probation officer Shane Lance. He said his client got a raw deal. Lance has filed a lawsuit against two of his former employers: Lubbock-Crosby County Community Supervision and Corrections Department, Crosby County Juvenile Board, and two board members: Lubbock County District Judge Ruben Reyes, and Crosby County Judge David Wigley.
"Both of those employers fired him because he reported what he in good faith believed was a violation of law committed by other public employees to some appropriate law enforcement authorities," Judge said.
Lance claims employees with Child Protective Services did not do their job to protect the welfare of Leah months before she was found dead. In fact, as a probation officer Lance had dealings with Almaraz and another woman who lived in the house.
"He recognized that the child was at risk for abuse and physical harm," Judge said.
Judge said his client contacted and warned Lubbock's CPS about the child's at risk situation. In November, the plaintiff claims a CPS investigator was directed to seek a non-emergency removal of the child from Almaraz. Lance claims that never happened.
The Director of Lubbock County Court Administration Dean Stanzione said he is aware that a petitions had been filed involving Ruben Reyes, the 72nd District Court Judge of Lubbock and Crosby counties.
"As we do with all pending litigation," Stanzione said, "there will be no comment regarding the nature of the action described in the plaintiff's petition. We ask the public to allow the legal process to run its course."
Attorney Judge said in January, his client told multiple law enforcement agencies what he reported to CPS months before. He said as a result, Lance was fired by his employers. He is now seeking remedies and damages.
"CPS got all bent out of shape because he told those law enforcement authorities that they had dropped the ball," Judge said. "After looking at the documents that he brought to us we are satisfied that he is telling a truthful story."
Lance in part is asking for compensation for wages lost during the period of termination and demands a trail by jury. There is also this chilling claim by Lance. He said after the child was found murdered, a CPS employee told him quote: "We messed up, and as a result a little girl is dead."