RIFLE, Colo. — Sophia Larson’s burial plot doesn’t have a gravestone yet. But it’s the first gravesite visitors likely notice when they enter Highland Cemetery in New Castle.
Not only is Sophia’s gravesite the first one on the right as one enters the cemetery, it’s well marked with the mementos of a 5-year old’s life: some toys, a small red chair, seashells, favorite pictures, bales of hay and yellow flowers in memory of her favorite color.
“Such an obnoxious color but she made me love it. I’ll do anything yellow now,” said a teary-eyed Alec Larson, standing next to his daughter’s grave. “It’s hard to find peace until I see the justice.”
Justice may be closer at hand for the 23-year-old father. Prosecutors with the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office have charged Larson’s ex-girlfriend Stephanie Alvarado with child abuse resulting in death, possession of a controlled substance and reckless endangerment.
What led to Sophia’s death began in a Rifle apartment on Dec. 11.
According to the arrest affidavit, Alvarado and her cousins, Betha Karina Ceballos-Romo and Daniel Alvarado, were using drugs.
Larson said a detective told him the women, “Were mixing their meth or heroin with alcohol in a water bottle, then smoking it.”
At one point, Larson said a thirsty Sophia came out of her room and somehow was able to drink what the adults were consuming before anyone realized it.
Alvarado and her cousins said that Sophia was energetic, talkative, hyper and rolling around on the ground, and had mentioned seeing demons multiple times.
But even then, Sophia wasn’t taken to the Grand River Health hospital for about four hours after overdosing on methamphetamine.
Daniel Alvarado and Ceballos-Romo both told Stephanie Alvarado that they had seen other children high on meth before and that Sophia would be fine.
Her father wasn’t even notified until after doctors had declared Sophia dead.
“Thank God they gave me a little bit of time to be with her because I laid with her for about an hour, an hour and a half,” said a visibly distraught Larson.
“She killed my daughter. I don’t see it any other way,” added Larson, before insisting he would never forgive his ex-girlfriend. “Never, never. If it’s up to me, I will never speak to her again.”
It would take seven weeks for toxicology results to confirm what Larson had been told from the beginning: his daughter died from a meth overdose.
The Garfield County Coroner’s Office said that Sophia had a “very, very high number” of methamphetamine in her blood and her cause of death would be attributable to “methamphetamine intoxication.”
On Feb. 12, a toxicology expert from the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy said Sophia could have survived if she had been taken to a hospital immediately.
Daniel Alvarado is charged with child abuse resulting in death, possession of a controlled substance and reckless endangerment.
Ceballos-Romo is charged with child abuse resulting in death, possession of a controlled substance, reckless endangerment and tampering with evidence.
“Sophie apparently bounced off the walls for four hours high as can be…and then she collapsed right there in front of all three of them in the living room,” said Larson.
The day before FOX31 interviewed Larson, we happened upon Stephanie Alvarado at her daughter’s gravesite. The 26-year-old told investigative reporter Rob Low she had been coping with Sophia’s death.
“Day by day,” she said, adding that she was leaning on her family members for emotional support. She called her daughter’s death “a tragic story” but declined to clarify if she thought Sophia had died from a drug overdose.
Alvarado acknowledged she had not been in contact with Larson because knew he was mad at her.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of anger. I’m waiting for him (Larson) to come to me,” she said.
When Low asked Alvarado if she was in treatment for substance abuse, she replied, “No, not yet, not yet. I mean, I’m doing fine. I just feel like I’m just waiting to see what’s — you know — what’s going to happen with the investigators.”
When asked if she should go to rehab for Sophia’s sake, she responded, “Yes, I think so.”
Larson told the Problem Solvers he hopes Alvarado follows through by getting substance-abuse treatment because he said the pain of losing his daughter demands nothing less.
“I go day by day not knowing how to carry myself because everyday that I carry myself was for her, so the amount that I miss her is indescribable,” he said.
Larson told FOX31 he has hired a sculpture artist to create a gravestone for Sophia and bought two plots next to her.
“So that I can fence it off and put a bench and really spend time with her and then when my time comes, I can be buried next to her,” he said.