The mother whose 5-year-old daughter was found dead in a closet in her Texas apartment last week continues to blame her boyfriend for the girl’s death, and said in a jailhouse interview that he wanted to flee to Mexico.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, both Priscilla Torres, 27, and her boyfriend Santiago Esparza Jr., are in custody facing charges of tampering with evidence after Torres’ daughter Sierra Patino was found dead in a closet on Labor Day. Authorities believe the girl’s body was in the apartment for several days, and that the couple traveled to Galveston, Texas, during that time.
In a jailhouse interview with Click2Houston, Torres said that Esparza suggested the pair run away to Mexico, and that he instructed her to tell police that Sierra was hurt when Torres was bathing her — one of the contradicting accounts Torres told officers after her arrest.
In the interview, Torres claimed that Esparza, who had moved in to the apartment three weeks ago after a brief courtship, insisted that he let her bathe Sierra to show that she trusted him. She said she agreed on the condition that Esparza leave the door open. But while he was bathing Sierra, she said she heard her daughter scream and went to check on her, but that the door was locked.
“He wouldn’t open it,” Torres said in the interview. “I knocked three different times.”
Eventually, Torres claimed, Esparza opened the door and Sierra emerged from the bathroom wrapped in a towel. She had a bruise on her forehead and peeling skin on her chin.
From the beginning of the investigation, Torres has reportedly told police that she believed her daughter was exposed to some type of chemical.
In the jailhouse interview, Torres said that Sierra barely ate or spoke for days after the bath incident, but that she was afraid to seek medical help, even though her daughter was vomiting. Based on earlier reports, it appears that Torres feared CPS would become involved.
On August 26, Torres said that Sierra told her she had seen a vision of her uncle who had recently died of cancer. The girl then said: “I’m done … I don’t feel very good,” according to her mother’s account. Torres said those were the last words Sierra spoke. That night, she vomited several times and had trouble breathing, and her mother claims she gave her an inhaler and performed CPR, but eventually her daughter stopped breathing altogether.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Esparza also gave a jailhouse interview this week, insisting that he had nothing to do with Sierra’s death and that he never gave the girl a bath. He claimed that Torres was lying and blamed her daughter’s death on him because she is “obsessed” with him.
Esparza is believed to be a gang member, and has a criminal history including a conviction for hurting his son.
It does not appear that either suspect has denied putting the girl’s body in a closet, and Torres reportedly admitted to police that her daughter’s corpse was in the home when they first came to the apartment for a wellness check.
Authorities are continuing to investigate the girl’s cause of death.
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This is a developing story. CrimeOnline will provide further updates when more information is available.