Photo courtesy
Joshua Benavidez, left, and Irene Enriquez, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, have been charged with aggravated battery with great bodily harm among other charges for allegedly setting a homeless Native American man on fire.

Couple Allegedly Set Homeless Native American Man on Fire, Police Say

Sheena Louise Roetman

A homeless Native American man remains in intensive care for serious burns he sustained after an Albuquerque, New Mexico, couple allegedly tossed lighted fireworks on him as he slept, setting him ablaze, according to police.

Joshua Benavidez and Irene Enriquez, both 31, were taken into police custody on July 22 after neighbors identified their purple Chevy Tahoe as the one seen in surveillance video released by police.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the homeless Native American man, Ruben Abeita, was asleep on the curb at about 8 p.m. on July 11 when the couple hurled fireworks at him, causing his clothing to catch fire. Enriquez said she wanted to help Abeita once she saw his clothing had been ignited, but that Benavidez prevented her from doing so and then fled the scene.

Neighbors also told police that the SUV had been painted white in recent days after the incident, according to KOB4, and although Benavidez told police he had sold a white Tahoe to “some Hispanic guy,” he had no paperwork to corroborate his story.

The couple’s 10-year-old son confirmed the story to police, saying he had been in the car with his 12-year-old stepbrother and two-year-old sister at the time and witnessed the attack.

Both Benavidez, who was on probation at the time of arrest for aggravated assault on a peace officer and tampering with evidence, and Enriquez are being held on a $100,000 bond each. Both are charged with three counts of child abuse and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, as well as aggravated battery with great bodily harm, tampering with evidence and conspiracy.

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tkopper9's picture
Submitted by tkopper9 on
Burns are perhaps the worst trauma a human can go through. My wife was a burn RN for many years at Albuquerque University Hospital burn center. The injuries I saw were too horrid to bear. How do we exact justice for such a barbaric crime? I feel bad not only for Mr. Abeita but for the children too.

mingo's picture
Submitted by mingo on
Pair of dumb , mean bastards should get at least 50 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

deedee's picture
Submitted by deedee on
Wow...'hey let's buy a bright purple SUV and throw fireworks at homeless people' ... both look extremely stupid ... hey 'Coppers' make sure ya burn a big "L" on their foreheads ... smh