A 2-year-old boy is dead after being left in the care of his own sister, 22-year-old Selissa Desiree Flores, and her boyfriend, 25-year-old Miguel Osbaldo Berumen-Zepeda, whom a juvenile witness said had “hatred” for the toddler, according to police.
CrimeOnline spoke exclusively with a close friend of the family who is organizing fundraisers and the family’s GoFundMe crowdfunding efforts, and she said the family prays for just one thing to come out of this unspeakable tragedy: justice.
On June 2, Austin, Texas, police were called to a home after a small child, whom authorities identified as 2-year-old Noel Leal, reportedly stopped breathing, according to an affidavit obtained by CrimeOnline.
“The 911 call advised that the baby was eating and then stopped breathing,” the affidavit states, adding that the caller said the “baby was cold and that they were unable to open the baby’s mouth to perform CPR.”
When authorities arrived at the home on Springdale Road, they found Noel to be “in full rigor mortis” and “obviously deceased,” according to the affidavit, citing Austin Police Department Sgt. Chris Keen as a witness.
Miguel Berumen-Zepeda and Selissa Flores, police handout
Keen subsequently observed the baby had wet hair with fresh trauma to the side of his face. In addition, it was noted that there was vomit on Noel’s clothing, and Keen observed an injury that appeared to be healing on his left leg, as well as “a small healing abrasion” on his lip.
When Austin Police Department Homicide Detective Scott Donovan arrived at the scene, he spoke with the baby’s mother, Ida Yvette Leal, who said she had dropped Noel off to be cared for by Flores at her home the evening prior. The mother told the detective that Noel had not been sick or suffered any recent injuries, adding that she had received text messages from Flores asking when she was going to pick the toddler up.
Authorities also spoke with Flores, who claimed Noel complained of not feeling well the previous night. She advised that she gave the boy Tylenol and fed him chicken soup, the affidavit says, adding that the boy had “trouble eating.” Flores then said the boy slept on the couch that evening, and in the morning he was complaining of a stomach ache before his eyes rolled back and he fell backwards on the couch. At this point, the victim’s sister said she called 911.
A juvenile witness at the residence said Flores was screaming before her boyfriend walked in shortly afterwards. The witness alleged that while Flores called 911, Berumen-Zepeda performed CPR. Berumen-Zepeda later told detectives that he had used a T-shirt to clean up white fluid from Noel’s mouth before throwing it in the trash.
On June 3, the affidavit says the Travis County deputy medical examiner determined Noel suffered injuries including the following: “a skull fracture, subcutaneous hemorrhages on the back of the head, contusions on the brain, bruising on his face, tears to the pancreas and mesentary, adhesions to the intestinal area, contusions to the left groin, healing rib fractures, bruising to the back, and deep hemorrhaging in the armpits.” Authorities subsequently classified Noel’s death as a homicide.
On June 5, authorities noted that Flores changed her version of the events that led up to her brother’s death. She allegedly said that Berumen-Zepeda had stayed at her home with Noel overnight, and that when she woke up on the morning of June 2 the boy was dead in a back corner bedroom of her residence, according to the affidavit. She proceeded to tell authorities that Burumen-Zepeda told her “not to say anything.”
Police say Flores then told detectives that she cleaned Noel up using baby wipes, and her boyfriend changed the boy’s clothes before they put him on the couch and called 911, alleging that he had choked. She then allegedly admitted to deleting text messages from her phone before authorities arrived at the horrifying scene.
When detectives interviewed the juvenile witness again, he said Berumen-Zepeda “has hatred towards the victim,” according to the affidavit, adding that he witnessed Burumen-Zepeda strike Noel on June 1 due to the baby crying.
At a press conference Thursday, authorities said Berumen-Zepeda confessed to causing the previously noted injuries that were in the healing stage.
When CrimeOnline spoke with a close family friend, Melly Herrera Vasquez, she said “Noel’s mother wants to let everyone know that she wants justice…to her she lost not only her son but also her daughter because of what happened.”
“She’s in mourning and just has so much on her mind,” Vasquez said.
Noel Leal, family photo provided to CrimeOnline
On behalf of the devastated mother, Vasquez provided the following statement:
“Noel was a sweet, cheerful little boy who loved to dance and was always smiling. As a friend of the family who’s going through something so tragic, this is a time to come together more than ever. We have to do as much as we possibly can for those we love going through something has horrible as this.”
You may click here to donate to the family’s GoFundMe page, which was organized by Vasquez to assist the family in giving Noel “a proper burial.”
Berumen-Zepeda is being held on a $100,000 bond at the Travis County Jail on charges of tampering with evidence and injury to a child. Flores is also being held in jail on a charge of tampering with physical evidence. Her bond is set at $75,000, according to online records.
Authorities said at Thursday’s press conference that they believe that once the evidence is presented to a grand jury it will qualify as a capital murder case.
[Feature photo: Noel Leal, photo provided to CrimeOnline]