Police say on November 21 Santos Rodriguez brought his girlfriend’s son to the hospital with a head injury. Rodriguez’s story was that the child had fallen off his Razor scooter and banged his head on the ground.
Investigators were called into the hospital and Rodriguez initially told them the same thing, according to San Bernardino Police. However, the child was diagnosed with severe head trauma, and police pressed Rodriguez for more information.
According to the press release, eventually, Rodriguez told him he lost his temper with the child and repeatedly stomped the child’s head into the ground.
Police said Rodriguez is a 24-year-old resident of Desert Hot Springs, California.
A Woman Who Says She Is the Child’s Grandmother Described Him as an ‘Amazing & Smart Lil’ Guy’
A woman named Linda Garcia responded to San Bernardino Police posting the press release and mug shot of Rodriguez on Facebook. She said she is the grandmother of the child who was killed and his name is Michael. Two of her Facebook connections also posted that they were devastated about what happened to their nephew.
Garcia wrote, “I am the grandmother of little Michael. I feel so sick to my stomach that this happened. I want people to know he was a very amazing and smart lil’ guy. Full of life. Please keep us in prayer.”
Michael’s mother, Stephanie Acosta, launched a GoFundMe campaign on November 23 to help pay for her child’s funeral expenses. “Michael was extremely loved by many. Michael was very intelligent for his age. Michael loved music and would memorize lyrics to multiple songs, his favorite song was Believer by Imagine Dragon and Dance Monkey,” she wrote. ” I … ask everyone to remember him as the sweet, handsome, little man he was and for his big smile he always had.”
Police are releasing very little information, saying the case is still under investigation, leaving many unanswered questions.
A 2018 Report Found That Most Child Murders Are Perpetrated by the Mothers
Many comments on the San Bernardino police Facebook post said it is yet another situation in which a boyfriend is left alone with their girlfriend’s child and the child ends up being violently killed.
While there seems to be no shortage of headlines regarding children being killed by boyfriends, stepdads or “intimate partners,” the American Journal of Preventative Medicine reports, “Child victims physically harmed in intimate partner violence incidents are understudied.”
However in one study of homicides of “children ages 2–14 years from 16 states for 2005–2014 found that of … 1,386 child homicide victims, 144 (10.4%) were coded in the National Violent Death Reporting System as intimate partner violence-related. However, from the narratives, an additional 138 were classified as intimate partner violence-related, identifying a total of 280 (20.2%) victims,” according to AJPM.
Yet a March report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau reported that in 2018, 26.8% of child deaths were perpetrated by the mother alone and 16.4% of child deaths were caused by a biological father. Non-parents who were were looking after the children, including family members and daycare workers, were responsible for 14.6% of child homicides.
Another finding in the March report was that most kids in the study — 72.8% — died from neglect whereas 46.1% of the deaths considered in the report were caused by physical abuse.
Associate professor of social work at Bridgewater State University and an expert in child maltreatment deaths Emily Douglas told Vice in 2017, “It’s not uncommon that people think most children die at the hands of mothers’ boyfriends, because they’re very brutal cases and they’re easier to prosecute. They’re cases the public can really get behind in some way, because they see this as an outside person who’s come into the family and perpetrated some horrific harm.”
Rodriguez is charged with murder and being held at the West Valley Detention Center in San Bernardino County on no bail. His next court date is on November 24, according to the San Bernardino Inmate Locator.