A convicted sex offender from Curry County has been charged with the criminal sexual penetration of a Tucumcari 9-year-old, according to a press release from the Tucumcari Police Department.
Kenneth Leon Mills, 30, was arrested Tuesday and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to the charges before the Quay County Magistrate Court. Mills is being held in the Quay County Detention Center. His bail is set at $250,000.
Mills is charged with two felony counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor, kidnapping and aggravated burglary.
"Mills who had absconded from Curry County and failed to register (as a sex offender) was picked up after officers responded to a reported sexual assault in South Tucumcari," the police press release said.
Tucumcari Police Chief Roger Hatcher said a warrant for failure to register as a sex offender had been issued by Curry County and that warrant was served on Mills following his arrest in Tucumcari.
Mills has been traveling back and forth between Clovis and Tucumcari, Hatcher said.
The child's mother said a man she knew "had entered the residence and then she said he had raped her daughter," according to court documents.
The 9-year-old told her mother she had been taken outside to a dumpster where the attack occurred, court documents stated.
"She told her mother that he told her not to scream or say anything to her mother because he would kill her mother. ... He told her not to be scared and he called himself Uncle Santa Claus," the documents said.
Hatcher said it's believed Mills lifted up a window near the front door of the residence, opened the front door from the inside and then "went in and took the child outside."
It's not certain if Mills released the child or the child ran back into the house to her mother's bedroom. The mother then called police, Hatcher said.
New Mexico's sex offender registry reports MIlls was convicted of criminal sexual penetration in 1998 in Curry County. He registered as a sex offender in September 2003.
"There is no excuse for the violence this child has suffered," Hatcher said in the news release. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family and I hope we have given them some sort of peace and security with the prompt arrest of Kenneth Mills."