A Columbus mother is accused of drowning her 7-year-old son over Memorial Day weekend, authorities said.
Oneida Maldonado-Cortez, 24, was charged with murder of her son, Fabian Maldonado-Cortez. The child’s stepfather, Jose Santos Perez, 37, is also facing felony child endangerment charges in the May 23 incident, according to online jail records. The couple were arrested by Columbus Police over the long weekend.
“The investigation revealed that Fabian had been subjected to severe abuse which [led] to his death,” Columbus Police said in a statement.
Law enforcement were called to the family’s home on the 2400 block of Azelda Street in the city’s north end shortly after 8 p.m. on Saturday, following reports that a child may have drowned.
“My baby, my baby, he's [in] the water, he died, maybe he drowned,” a 911 caller said during a call with emergency dispatchers, WBNS-TV reported.
Fabian Maldonado-Cortez was in critical condition when first responders arrived at the scene. The 7-year-old was rushed to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital but was pronounced dead by doctors at 9:50 p.m. on Sunday, Columbus authorities said.
“I came back and the whole street was lit up with cops, detectives, and if I'm not mistaken, a K-9 dog,” a neighbor later told WBNS-TV. “That's sad that she would hurt that baby like that.”
Malonado-Cortez allegedly confessed to the abuse, according to court documents obtained by local media. She allegedly beat her 7-year-old son with a metal broomstick handle, as well as cell phone charging cords, according to ABC-affiliated television station, WSYX. She never sought medical treatment for the boy, law enforcement said, according to WBNS-TV. The child had sustained a number of cuts and other injuries, investigators said.
“The young man had been put in the bathtub to cleanse him after his injuries that were so bad,” Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told WBNS. “It's just a terrible case.”
Perez, who allegedly was aware of the abusive parenting, told authorities he didn’t report Maldonado-Cortez because he didn’t want his partner to wind up behind bars.
Columbus Police Department wasn’t immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
Both Maldonado-Cortez and Perez are being held at a Franklin County detention center, online jail records show. They appeared alongside each other in court on Tuesday, according to WSYX. They wore face masks in court and appeared to stare at the ground during the proceedings. A judge has since set their bonds at $2 million each. It’s unclear if the pair have secured legal counsel. The couple is scheduled to be back in court on June 2, WSYX reported.
The couple has another child, who has since been placed in protective custody, the CBS affiliate also reported. Maldonado-Cortez and Perez don't appear to have previously been accused of child neglect, Franklin County Children Services told local media outlets. Maldonado-Cortez, however, has a criminal history in Arizona, WSYX reported.
Anyone with information related to the ongoing child abuse investigation is urged to contact Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 624-461-TIPS.
Fabian Maldonado-Cortez’s death marked the 38th murder in Columbus this year, according to law enforcement.
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