On the morning of Tuesday, January 7, 2020, 27-year-old Trevor Marquis Rowe stopped at home to pick up 10-month-old Marion Aviana Rebecca Jester-Montoya, the daughter of his girlfriend, Veronica Marie Weems. Trevor and Veronica lived together in Lubbock, Texas. Veronica was still sleeping, which, reportedly, is one of her most coveted and highly prioritized activities, when Trevor picked up the baby and took the little girl to work with him. He worked as a roofer with members of Veronica’s family. Why would he take a 10-month-old baby who wasn’t even his to work with him as a roofer, you might ask? Why, that’s an excellent question!
Reportedly, Trevor told police he took Marion with him to work because Veronica, groggy with sleep, told him that morning to take the baby and let her sleep.
Trevor apparently thought he had this child-care thing in the bag… literally. Instead of finding someone else capable of caring for the little girl, like her biological father or his family, Trevor “crammed” Marion into a backpack, left the backpack on the passenger side floorboard of his Dodge Charger, and headed off to work.
I’m sorry… what!?
This story is a rabbit hole, to be sure. I’ve been reading through articles and poring over Facebook posts for hours now, and I hardly know where to start.
On Tuesday, the temperature in Lubbock was approximately 62 degrees. Using an online calculator designed for this purpose, I determined this meant the interior of Trevor’s car may have risen to approximately 113 degrees. There is no calculator, online or otherwise, that can tell us how hot it would get inside a backpack inside that car, especially when the backpack’s occupant, which is a phrase that should never have to be used for any reason, is crammed inside like hastily packed clothes on their way to a middle-school sleepover.
I have to add here that Trevor told police that Marion hadn’t eaten since eight o’clock the previous evening.
According to the statement Trevor gave police, when he returned a little bit later to check on Marion, she had escaped the backpack, so he stuffed her back inside and zipped it up tightly. And why did he secure the baby inside a backpack, you might wonder? According to him, he did this so no one would see he had left her alone in the car. I mean, duh, right?
Trevor returned to the car at around 1:00 PM, drove to pick up some fast food for himself, and stopped at a couple stores. When he stopped to chow down, he finally thought to check on little Marion, who he found “lightly crying but breathing.” Did he let her out? Give her something to eat? Allow her to fill her lungs with fresh air? Cuddle or console her in any way?
Of course not; do you remember what site you’re on?!
Instead, Trevor muscled little Marion into the backpack again, zipped it up, and casually finished his lunch. Before returning to work, he moved the backpack into the trunk “through the backseat pass through,” apparently so Marion really had no chance to escape.
Trevor told police that when he returned to the car after work at approximately 4:50 PM, he checked on Marion and found her pale, unresponsive, and not breathing. He climbed into the driver’s seat and drove to the intersection of 130th Street and Upland Avenue in Lubbock, where he claims he attempted CPR. He also placed a call to 911 at this time, during which he tells the dispatcher he is at the intersection of 113th and Upland (I can find no reason for this discrepancy, but since there appears to be no intersection of 113th and Upland, I’m going with the police’s version on this).
A brief clip of Trevor’s 911 call can be heard below.
In the clip, he tells the dispatcher, “Ah, yes, I need an ambulance. I’m on, uh, corner of 113th and Upland. I have an infant with me; she’s not breathing.” The dispatcher then transfers his call.
Lubbock police officers arrived just before 5:00 PM and rushed the baby to University Medical Center in Lubbock, where Marion was pronounced dead.
The Metropolitan Special Crimes Unit was called to the scene.
Trevor was arrested at about 1:00 AM on Wednesday, January 8 and charged with capital murder. His arrest warrant reads, “He knew that placing a person into a trunk was dangerous to human life. Rowe advised that placing someone into a backpack was even more dangerous.”
He has not yet entered a plea, and he is being held in the Lubbock County Detention Center on a bond of two million dollars. He does not seem to have an attorney to speak on his behalf.
So those are the facts of the story, but of course, we all know there’s more to any story than just the bare bones, right? For example, take a look at this Facebook post by someone who clearly knows Veronica, Travis, and the crew:
Well, that’s certainly a lot to unpack. According to marriage records, Veronica Marie Hager and Thomas Wayne Weems were married on October 13, 2018. I was unable to locate any evidence of a divorce, so it appears that Veronica is still married to Thomas. My guess is that the marriage came to a screeching halt once the truth came out that Emilio Montoya, not Thomas, was Marion’s father. So, Veronica was with Thomas, got pregnant by Emilio while she and Thomas were engaged, married Thomas, convinced him the baby was his, apparently saw her marriage implode as a result of the lie being exposed, and began dating Emilio’s close friend Trevor not long afterward. Phew. I’m exhausted just typing it.
According to 26-year-old Emilio, Marion was at the center of a heated custody dispute between himself and Veronica, and if Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Department of Family and Protective Services (the investigation division) had done their jobs, Marion would still be alive.
Emilio said he had called CPS several times regarding the care Marion was being provided by Veronica and her live-in boyfriend, Trevor. The first time he called CPS was when baby Marion wouldn’t stop crying, and he took her to the hospital, only to be told she had tested positive for methamphetamine.
CPS, evidently, did nothing. Excuse me?!
The next call to CPS came from someone other than Emilio. “Trevor Rowe’s house is filthy, messy, there’s poop everywhere, the kids [are] filthy and literally roll in dog poop at his house,” Emilio said.
“As a parent, I don’t trust him; I don’t want my kid there,” Emilio said, adding that Trevor has a rap sheet that includes theft, domestic assault, and abandoning or endangering a child with the intent to return. That last charge stems from an incident in 2018 in which Trevor left his young son and daughter sleeping at home, unattended, while he took off on a bicycle to buy food. It seems the children awoke and set off the burglar alarm, to which police responded. When they arrived, they heard a child crying inside the home, where the door was unlocked, but there was no adult on the property. Those charges were later dismissed “in the interest of justice,” whatever the actual fuck that means.
So what we can glean from this information is that 1) Trevor Rowe has two children of his own (wonderful), and 2) he’s an irresponsible dickbag, to say the least. Emilio Montoya seems to share that sentiment, and he would know, because he and Trevor have been friends for years, at least since high school.
I would guess that friendship has reached its definitive end.
Emilio called CPS the third time due to a bleeding rash he discovered stretching almost the entire length of Marion’s leg. In an ongoing text exchange with a CPS caseworker, Emilio told them that Veronica had been kicked out of her apartment for not paying rent, and she was moving in with Trevor. He sent the caseworker photos of bruises on Marion’s head, neck, and bottom. According to him, he told the caseworker, “This is getting progressively worse and I’m going to get a call one day and that something bad is going to happen and I don’t want that call. Something needs to be done now.”
Unfortunately, nothing was done, and Emilio got the call he never wanted to get. Marion is dead.
“I hope he never gets out. I hope Veronica feels the same way, and I know she’s defended him on a lot of other things, but I don’t think she can defend him anymore,” said Emilio. He and his family don’t believe Veronica was a fit mother, but he said she wouldn’t admit that for fear of how she would appear to others.
His opinion is that CPS was negligent in not removing Marion from the home her mother shared with Trevor and that the agency should be held responsible. “I don’t care if this takes 20 years or 50. I will be on them till the end of time,” Emilio said.
A spokesperson for DFPS/CPS confirmed 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.”
Emilio said that the last time he saw Marion, “she clung on to me and screamed” when he dropped her off with Veronica. “There was nothing I could do.”
The Montoya family has seen more than its share of loss in the past three years. First, Emilio’s 34-year-old sister, Becky, died unexpectedly of acute meth toxicity in June of 2017, leaving behind a 15-year-old son. Then, in May of 2019, his father, Ramon, died of cancer at the age of 63. And now, his infant daughter has been ripped from his arms by a man he once considered a friend.
Life is really unfair sometimes.
Emilio’s other sister, Katrina, has set up a Facebook fundraiser for Emilio and his mother, Sheilah (who goes by the name of Katie), who had a large role in Marion’s life and in the baby’s care. I feel just awful for the Montoya family. They have endured more tragedy in the past three years than any one family should have to bear. Anything we can do to help, even if it’s in the form of a small monetary donation, is a tiny comfort, and they can use all the comfort they can get right now. There is also a Meal Train set up in case someone wants to donate a meal or a gift card so they don’t have to worry about cooking while they grieve this immense loss.
Let’s wrap up this post by learning as much as we can about little Marion Aviana Rebecca Jester-Montoya herself. She was an infant, but she was loved more than some adults will ever be. Her family’s Facebook pages, especially her Grandma Katie’s, are overflowing with photos of the sweet, smiley little girl with the big, bright eyes.
Marion was born on February 10, 2019. According to her obituary, “she loved play time, her play time included bouncing, chasing her pets, playing with her baby doll, as well as playing video games with her dad, on the same controller. Her snack time included eating her favorite snack cheetoh puffs. She was a sparkle of joy, with a smile and personality that will live on in the memory of those who loved her so.”
Marion’s first birthday would have been February 10, and her family was planning a Minnie Mouse-themed party for her.
Emilio reminisced about his daughter, “She was a very smart and happy baby. She was learning to walk and she could walk the couch to the screen window and loved to look at the dogs.” He also said Marion loved to “catch the cat.”
“She always knew that I was dad,” he said. “Every time I called, she would scream ‘Dada’ into the phone.”
Marion had apparently started saying her first words a short time ago. I can’t stop watching this video; she was so precious, and so clearly loved.
A family friend and local musician, Bud Castelleja, is organizing a show at The Den in Lubbock to help raise funds for the Montoya family.
Marion’s funeral will be held on Thursday, January 16.
I will update this story as events develop. Click here or search the Marion Montoya tag to read my future coverage.
Sources: People, NBC News, City of Lubbock/Lubbock Police Department, Fox 34 News, EverythingLubbock.com, Buzzfeed News, KFYO, Cavillo Funeral Home, Abilene Reporter News, New York Post, 13abc, Facebook