AUBURNDALE — The Medical Examiner’s Office found a broken lower back, internal bleeding, and eight bruises on the top of the head. The victim: an 11-month-old boy.
The child’s stepfather is now in custody, charged with homicide in the baby’s death.
On Monday, Aug. 6, Polk County Sheriff’s Homicide detectives arrested Edwin Cruz Vargas, 25, of 111 Oleander Ave. in Auburndale and charged him with one count of aggravated child abuse and one count of negligent manslaughter of a child in the death of his 11-month-old stepson.
Vargas was booked into the Polk County Jail on Monday night.
Detectives say Vargas’ wife left her 11-month-old baby boy Josiah Figueroa, who was born on Sept. 8 2011, in Edwin Vargas’ care on Saturday, Aug. 4. She only wanted him to watch the baby for an hour so she could go to an appointment, the sheriff’s office said.
According to the police report, Edwin Vargas dialed 9-1-1 on Saturday around 12:40 p.m. and told dispatchers that his stepson was choking and losing consciousness. Deputy Charles Swartz got to the home at 12:47 p.m., and attempted to perform CPR until EMS arrived.
The baby was transported to Winter Haven Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53 p.m.
Detectives say Edwin Vargas told them he was trying to teach the baby to walk and got frustrated with him, and shook him. According to the police report, Vargas told detectives that when the infant resisted, he picked up the child and squeezed him very hard and said “Quit crying, you fat f**king baby.”
Vargas said the baby became “fussy” so he tried to feed the baby a bottle of formula, but the child wouldn’t drink it. As he was holding the infant, Vargas told detectives, the formula began to pour out of the baby’s nose and the child began choking, so Vargas slapped him on the back, then called 9-1-1 and attempted CPR when he became unresponsive.
He said that while doing CPR, he slapped and punched the baby, hoping he would “wake up.”
On Monday, an autopsy was conducted by Dr. Vera Volnikh of the District 10 Medical Examiner’s Office, who noted that there were numerous injuries to the baby’s body, including a broken lower back, a torn diaphragm around the spinal column which caused internal bleeding, eight small bruises on the top of his head, and two small bruises on the back of his head, consistent with being struck by knuckles.
The baby also had a swollen brain.
The cause of death was ruled to be blunt force injury, and his manner of death was ruled a homicide.
Edwin Vargas was then arrested and charged in the baby’s death.
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