Police are asking the public’s help to track down a suspected gang member they believe played some role in the death of a 5-year-old girl in Houston late last month.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Priscilla Torres, 27, reportedly admitted to hiding the corpse of her daughter, 5-year-old Sierra Patino, in a closet for several days after the girl died on or around August 27. Torres was arrested earlier this week and charged with tampering with evidence, and authorities said on Thursday that they plan to file the same charges against her boyfriend, 30-year-old Santiago Esparza, as they believe the he was in the apartment and helped Torres hide the body. (Note: Earlier reports referred to the suspect as Santioago Esperanza.)
Torres reportedly changed her story about what happened to her daughter several times, but told police at one point that Sierra died after a chemical substance fell into the tub as Esparza was giving the girl a bath.
As ABC 13 reports, Houston police have issued a warrant for Esparza’s arrest and have asked the public for information on his whereabouts.
WANTED: A warrant for the same felony charge of tampering with evidence is now filed against Santiago Esparza, Jr., 30. This is a 2016 booking photo of Esparza. If you know his whereabouts, please call HPD Homicide 713-308-3600 or @CrimeStopHOU 713-222-TIPS. #hounews pic.twitter.com/QEBxP8MjVv
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) September 6, 2019
Investigators are still working to determine the girl’s cause of death, though Houston police told ABC 13 that Esparza could be facing additional charges.
The suspect is believed to be a member of the gang Tango Blast, which reportedly has a deep network in Mexico. According to the ABC 13 report, authorities appear to suspect that both suspects are a flight risk, and have raised Torres’ bond from $50,000 to $100,000, out of concern that Esparza may attempt to hide her in Mexico.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the pair reportedly left the Houston-area apartment for three nights after they put the girl’s body in a closet, and traveled as far as Galveston, on Texas’s Gulf Coast.
[Feature image: Sierra Patino and Priscilla Torres/Facebook]