Share story

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a man accused of killing a 13-year-old boy who endured years of abuse is dead as a result of what appears to have been a suicide at the Santa Fe County jail.

District Attorney Marco Serna said 42-year-old Thomas Wayne Ferguson was found dead in custody Saturday morning. He was awaiting trial on murder and other charges in the January death of Jeremiah Valencia.

County Sheriff Robert Garcia said it was his understanding that jail staff discovered Ferguson had hung himself, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported .

“We don’t suspect anything other than suicide by hanging,” Garcia said.

Serna said his office will “continue to aggressively prosecute” co-defendants Tracy Ann Pena and Jordan Nunez.

“I am angry this happened,” Serna said of Ferguson’s death. “I don’t believe Ferguson is going to receive the whole justice my office was going to bring against him, to bring justice to Jeremiah, the family and the people of northern New Mexico.”

Pena was the boy’s mother. Ferguson was her boyfriend and Nunez was her adult son.

Police said Ferguson brutally beat the Nambe teen to death while Pena was in jail on a warrant for failing to appear in court. The boy’s body was found buried along a rural highway.

Authorities did not discover his body until two months after his estimated death in November because no one reported Valencia as missing.