The mother of a 5-year-old Texas girl whose corpse was found in the closet of their home still blames her boyfriend for fatally injuring her during a bath and also claims the child had a vision of her dead uncle before dying.
Priscilla Torres, 27, of Houston, Texas was arrested last week and charged with tampering with evidence involving a human corpse for allegedly hiding Sierra Patino’s body inside a bedroom closet. The child is believed to have been dead for days, her body covered in bruises and burns. Torres' live-in boyfriend Santiago Esparza Jr., 30, was arrested shortly after on the same charge.
The couple have been pointing the finger at each other since their arrests, with Torres saying it was Esparza who gave Sierra a bath that resulted in her suffering burns that proved fatal. Esparza responded by calling Torres “a goddamn liar.”
Torres doubled down on her claim in a jail interview with Click2Houston, saying Esparza was adamant about bathing the 5-year-old.
“If we’re going to live together, you need to let me do this,” Torres claimed Esparza told her. “You need to trust me.”
Esparza had recently moved in, though they'd only been together for about a month. Torres said she complied and soon heard her daughter screaming from the bathroom. When she went to check on her, the door was locked, she said.
“He wouldn’t open it,” Torres said. “I knocked three different times.”
When he finally did open the door, according to Torres, she found her daughter with a bruise on her forehead and red, peeling skin on her chin. For the next three days, she said the child barely ate or talked, but Torres said she did say something before she died.
Claiming her daughter had a vision of her recently deceased uncle Jessie, Torres said Sierra told her “I’m done” and “I don’t feel very good” before vomiting several times.
As for why she didn’t seek out medical attention, Torres told Click2Houston “I was scared to call anyone.”
Torres said she tried to help her daughter with both CPR and an inhaler.
The mother also told the outlet that Esparza convinced her to not call the police and that he suggested they run away to Mexico. She said he also pushed her to lie about Sierra’s death, and to tell investigators if asked that it was she who bathed her daughter.
Authorities say Torres did initially claim she gave her daughter a bath and, after leaving the child alone for a few minutes, a bottle of toilet cleaner ended up in the tub with her, which burned her. She then allegedly switched her story, telling detectives that Esparza was the one to give the girl a bath with the door closed and that he refused to open, KHOU reported.
Esparza is allegedly a gang member who has a long list of convictions, including one for hurting his own son, KDSK reports. However, he maintained he’s innocent in this incident.
"I turned myself in," he told KHOU this week. "I wouldn't be here if I was guilty. I'd be long gone. I turned myself in to face this because I didn't do what she said I did. I'm here to face all this."
The results of an official autopsy of the child are still pending.
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