A Wisconsin mother is behind bars following the death of her 16-year-old special needs son, who police say was nothing but skin and bones at the time of his death.
Iraida Pizarro-Osorio, 32, has been charged with child neglect by Milwaukee County authorities, according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by Oxygen.com.
Authorities allege that Pizarro-Osorio, a mother of three, regularly locked her disabled and practically immobile teenage son — who was described as having the “mental capacity of a small child” — in his room and lied about her whereabouts in the days leading up to her son’s death.
When police arrived at the Sixteenth Street Health Center in Milwaukee on Sept. 4, they found the boy — who weighed just 42 pounds at the time he died — in an “extreme malnourished state.”
“[His] body was purging a dark brownish substance from the mouth,” the affidavit stated. “[His] skeletal structure was visible underneath the skin. [He] had no fatty tissue and was lacking muscle.”
Authorities said his frighteningly low weight placed the teen in the zero percentile on the Centers for Disease Control’s chart for boys aged 2 to 20.
Investigators say Pizarro-Osorio initially told them she'd been in Puerto Rico with her son for two weeks prior to his death and they'd only just returned from the trip earlier that day. She claimed that her son stopped eating abroad but that when she sought medical attention, they were turned away because they had no health insurance. Shortly before taking her son to the hospital, she found the teen unresponsive in his bedroom “with blood coming out of [his] mouth.”
However, the woman’s ex-boyfriend, Jose Chaidez, who arrived at the hospital soon after, allegedly told detectives that Pizarro-Osorio was a heavy drinker, that he often looked after her children, and most startlingly, that she had not just been to Puerto Rico. Authorities say the woman had actually traveled to a wedding in Indiana, leaving a neighbor and her 18-year-old daughter to care for her son, who died roughly two days after she returned.
Once in custody, Pizarro-Osorio admitted to lying out of the fear of losing her other children, Milwaukee County officials said.
During police interviews, Pizarro-Osorio indicated that her son never weighed more than 75 to 80 pounds during his entire lifetime. She said he suffered from a “genetic disorder, has seizures, epilepsy, and autism.” Pizarro-Osorio said the seizures began as a toddler, which ultimately prevented him from gaining weight — and eventually rendered him unable to walk toward the end of his life. She told investigators that he often crawled to get around the house.
The family moved to Milwaukee in 2009 and for the past decade sought the help of a variety of specialists, including neurologists at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, as well as physical therapists, pediatricians, and nutritionists. She said she fed him “normal food, fruit, milk, and other liquids,” the affidavit described.
Police say that when they searched the woman’s house, they discovered a chain lock on the malnourished teen’s bedroom. Pizarro-Osorio told investigators that the lock had been there when she moved in. However, police said the woman’s landlord denied this, and the woman’s daughter also stated Pizarro-Osorio used the lock on occasion. Pizarro-Osorio eventually admitted to locking the boy in his room at night, police said.
“[Pizarro-Osorio] claimed that she would feed [her son] dinner and then lock [him] in his bedroom at bedtime,” the affidavit stated. “When [he] fell asleep, [Pizarro-Osorio] claimed she opened the door back up so that the defendant could hear if [her son] suffered a seizure.”
In the days leading up to his death, Pizarro-Osorio estimated the child lost 15 pounds and was only eating minute portions of food. Instead of taking her son to an emergency room, she scheduled an appointment with their family doctor for later in the month, according to authorities.
A Milwaukee County Medical Examiner analysis of the teen’s body found several signs of malnutrition, including ulcers on the boy’s hips and left shoulder. A final ruling on the exact cause of the child’s death hasn’t yet been released.
But police said it’s not the first time Pizarro-Osorio had been accused of potentially starving her child.
In 2017, the 16-year-old was hospitalized because of a seizure and concerns over malnutrition, at which point the Bureau of Child Welfare began making regular visits to Pizarro-Osorio’s home to ensure the teenager was gaining weight.
Milwaukee Child Protective Services also received three referrals related to malnutrition concerns between 2016 and 2018. Authorities, who ordered the woman to be monitored on an in-home basis for six months, said the child’s weight improved to roughly 77 pounds in 2018. It’s unclear why the supervision was discontinued.
Pizarro-Osorio is being held on a $35,000 cash bond, according to online court records. She’s scheduled in court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 18. The court also barred Pizarro-Osorio from having any contact with her two other children, who are being cared for by the woman’s ex-boyfriend. James Lewis, the woman’s defense attorney, was unable to be reached for comment.
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