Body of Child found in the Rio Grande in T or C Identified, NMSP Make Arrest

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Written by Officer Ray Wilson 08/13/2021

Truth or Consequences, NM – On the morning of June 18, 2021, the grandmother of Shaquille Ferguson Jr., 5, of Truth or Consequences (T or C) came into the New Mexico State Police district office in T or C to request a welfare check on Shaquille Jr. The grandmother told officers that she had not seen Shaquille Jr. for about two and a half weeks.

She continued to tell officers that a few weeks ago, she was at the Rio Grande River at Riverfront Park in T or C with Shaquille Jr. and his father, Shaquille Ferguson Sr. She said Shaquille Sr. took Shaquille Jr. down towards the river. Moments later Shaquille Sr. returned without Shaquille Jr. Shaquille Sr. told her that Shaquille Jr. was with another family member. That was the last time she reported seeing Shaquille Jr.

On that same day, after hearing the grandmother’s statement, the New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), located Shaquille Sr. in T or C to see if he had Shaquille Jr. Shaquille Sr. was located and told agents that Shaquille Jr. was with a family member in Colorado. Agents quickly learned that the family member mentioned did not exist and the story was fictitious.

Shaquille Sr. then told agents that he and Shaquille Jr. were swimming in the Rio Grande, and Shaquille Jr. had drowned. He told agents that he left Shaquille Jr’s body on the shore and walked away. Agents took Shaquille Sr. down to the river and he showed them where he left the body, which was no longer there.

On June 19, 2021, agents called in the assistance of dive teams from NMSP, NM Parks, Albuquerque Police Department, and US Border Patrol to the Rio Grande River. Dive teams located and recovered the deceased body of a child about 6 miles from the Rotary Park where Shaquille Sr. told agents he left the body.

The recovered body was sent to the Office of the Medical Investigators (OMI) for identification and a determination of the cause of death. The poor condition of the recovered body made identification a difficult process. On July 14, 2021, a DNA sample was obtained from the biological mother of Shaquille Ferguson Jr. and sent to the state crime lab for comparison.

Through further investigation of this case, agents learned that sometime around the first of June 2021, a witness reported seeing Shaquille Jr. tied up by Shaquille Sr. for misbehaving. Additional investigation also identified a witness who was parked at the riverbank on June 12, 2021, and recalled seeing a man matching Shaquille Sr’s description take a small child matching Shaquille Jr’s description down to the river, and return a short time later without the child.

On August 6, 2021, OMI positively identified the recovered body as that of Shaquille Ferguson Jr., 5, of T or C. On August 12, 2021, an arrest warrant was issued for Shaquille W. Ferguson, Sr. He was arrested and booked into the Sierra County Detention Center for the charges of Negligent Abuse of a Child Resulting in Death, Abuse of a Child (Tortured, Cruelly Confined, or Cruelly Punished), and Obstruction of an Investigation of Child Abuse.

This case remains under investigation by the New Mexico State Police with assistance from HSI.