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Chicago Woman Charged After Allegedly Pushing 3-Year-Old Nephew Into Lake Michigan

Authorities say that Victoria Moreno allegedly pushed her 3-year-old nephew off Chicago's Navy Pier. It took 30 minutes to pull the boy from the water and he isn't expected to survive. 

By Jax Miller
Tragic and Disturbing Cases of Child Abuse

A Chicago woman is accused of pushing her 3-year-old nephew into the lake and doing nothing as he nearly drowned.

Victoria Moreno, 34, was arrested on Monday afternoon on felony charges of first-degree attempted murder and aggravated child battery resulting in permanent disability, according to the Chicago Police Department. Authorities say that, around 1:00 p.m., Moreno “pushed” an unnamed 3-year-old into Lake Michigan at the 700 block of E. Grand Avenue at Navy Pier — a popular area tourist destination.

Police stated Moreno “did not attempt to rescue the victim,” who isn’t expected to survive, according to the Associated Press.

Police say the child was in the care of his grandmother when Moreno, the boy’s aunt, allegedly took the child while the grandmother went to change, according to a police report obtained by Chicago’s WGN-TV.

At a bail hearing on Wednesday, Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto also said that Moreno allegedly “stole the keys” from the family’s Des Moines, Illinois, home — about 20 miles northwest of Chicago — and snuck away with the child in the family truck, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Moreno wasn’t permitted to drive because of a medication she allegedly takes to treat “mental health issues,” according to prosecutors.

Moreno reportedly told police that she took the child to Navy Pier to ride the rides before he began “acting up,” prompting her to “let go of his shirt” so that he fell into the water.

A police handout of Victoria Moreno

Prosecutors tell a slightly different story, claiming Moreno allegedly looked over each shoulder to make sure no one was watching before allegedly scooping the child up and tossing him from the pier, according to the Sun-Times.

Regardless of how he entered the water, the boy sank to the lake's bottom before first responders arrived, according to The Detroit News. The time between his fall and his rescue was approximately 30 minutes.

“The victim was pulled from the water by emergency personnel and transported to an area hospital in critical condition,” police stated.

RELATED: Couple Face More Than 600 Child Abuse-Related Charges For Alleged Serial Torture Of Two Kids

Prosecutor Scaduto said the boy was in cardiac arrest when pulled from the water and continues to suffer from a swollen brain and bleeding in his lungs, and has had multiple seizures and heart attacks, according to the Sun-Times.

Witnesses on the scene said Moreno didn’t seem present.

“She looked unwell, like she wasn’t really all there,” bystander Ashton King told WGN-TV. “It was bizarre to me. She seemed scared, but I don’t know if she was scared for him or her.”

King said she and a female friend from out of town were walking along the pier when the friend asked if she’d heard a splash, which King hadn’t. The pair then turned and saw Moreno looking down into the water.

“Obviously, we were curious… we didn’t expect to look down and see a little boy,” King recalled. “We saw him floating on his back. We turned to her, and we’re like, ‘Do you know him? Were you with him when he fell in? Are you with him?’ She never gave me a clear answer.”

King told the Sun-Times the boy seemed “disorientated” and “scared out of his mind.”

“He was just staring up at the sky,” said King. “His eyes were super, super wide, and he was trying his best to stay afloat.”

King called 911 while her friend ran for a life preserver, but the boy went underwater before she got back. King told the station that both women took their shoes off, preparing to jump in, but realized they'd have no way to get back up to the pier if they did.

Moreno reportedly told first responders she was only a witness to the boy's fall before admitting she was his aunt, WGN reported.

“Not once during any of these events did the defendant scream for help, call for help, ask for help, or try herself to help,” said Scaduto at Wednesday’s hearing. “When the police arrived, the defendant pretended not to know anything about the child.”

Public Defender Patrick Shine, on the other hand, said his client lived with “severe” insomnia, anxiety and depression, claiming her alleged actions were not premeditated.

“I don’t think anyone can say what my client was thinking,” Shine stated. “This incident is an anomaly in her background.”

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Susanna Ortiz called the defendant’s alleged actions “intentionally brutal and heinous,” denying Moreno’s bail.

Little information was released about the child’s parents, but according to WGN-TV, the father is a long-time patient at another hospital, where he is waiting on a heart transplant and cannot see his 3-year-old. He created a GoFundMe campaign last week to, “get back home to my son and wife soon.”

The child’s grandfather told the Detroit News their family needs “a lot of prayer right now.”

“Everybody’s prayer helps,” the grandfather said. “God makes things happen. That’s what we are banking on right now.”

Moreno is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 30.

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