FARMINGTON - Farmington police early Monday found the body of a woman they said was beaten to death by her boyfriend inside the couples' apartment in west Farmington.

Lionel Francis Sr., a 33-year-old Farmington man, called police at 8:42 a.m. to report “his lady” wasn't breathing at their home at 2901 Parque De Oeste, Farmington police Detective Sgt. Brandon Lane said.

The home was locked and no one answered the door when police arrived. Officers forced their way in and found Shai Burbank, 32, dead on the floor, Lane said.

“She showed no signs of life and appeared to be dead for some time,” Lane said. “From what we've seen on scene (she died) of major trauma and we won't be able to determine what that is until tomorrow when they do an autopsy."

Police found Francis upstairs with Burbank's seven-year-old daughter and a four-month-old child Burbank and Francis had together, Lane said.

Police arrested Francis at the crime scene and detectives interviewed him throughout the day Monday. Police obtained warrants and seized his clothes and DNA, Lane said.

Francis hadn't been charged with a crime Monday evening, but Lane said police were seeking an arrest warrant for second-degree murder, battery against a household member and tampering with evidence.

Neighbors reported hearing a disturbance at the apartment late Sunday night or early Monday morning, Lane said.

He said police scheduled a session with a forensic interviewer for the seven-year-old child at Childhaven on Tuesday.

Lane said Burbank showed signs of being beaten across her body. There was no weapon found at the crime scene.

Burbank's autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday with the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque.

Lane said the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department took custody of the two children. Lane said the agency would work to see if the children could be placed with Burbank's family, some of whom live near Shiprock.

Farmington police spokeswoman Georgette Allen said police had responded to the couples' residence because of domestic violence in the past.

Francis has two prior convictions for misdemeanor battery against a household member. Those convictions were in March of this year and October 2009, according to a state court website. 
Ryan Boetel covers crime and San Juan County for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.