Police: Mom's boyfriend murdered toddler

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Police have arrested a Glendale man in connection with the death of his girlfriend's little daughter.

Sgt. Brent Coombs and Officer Tracey Breeden of the Glendale Police Department said Miguel Garcia told investigators he found the 15-month-old girl not breathing after she had been put down for a nap Sunday morning.

Garcia, 22, was babysitting the toddler and his girlfriend's three other children, ages 6, 5 and 2, while she was at work. He later told an officer he was trying to get the kids to go to sleep so he could take a nap.

According to police, Garcia scooped up the little girl and ran to a neighbor's home. That's when 911 was called. Neighbors were doing CPR when officers arrived. The toddler was taken to Maryvale Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Doctors said there were no obvious signs of trauma.

While the cause of death is still pending, Coombs and Breeden said homicide detectives developed probable cause to arrest Garcia in connection with the little girl's death. He was taken into custody late Thursday morning and booked on one count of second-degree murder.

Coombs and Breeden said the toddler's mother is not a suspect in the case.

Police are not releasing any information about the victim or her siblings, but according to court paperwork, there were previous police reports associated with Garcia, pictured above from a previous unrelated arrest, and his girlfriend. Those reports spawned Child Protective Services investigations in 2010.

CPS placed the victim's three siblings with separate foster families the night the little girl died. Court documents show that one of the siblings talked to her foster mother about what happened to the toddler.

According to the probable-cause statement, the girl said Garcia was angry with the toddler for crying. She said Garcia wrapped the victim in a blanket and put her in the closet. The little girl was blue and unresponsive and she was taken out of the closet. The child says that's when Garcia took the victim the the neighbor's home.

Court papers say interviews with the other two siblings revealed the same information.

The officer who talked to the girls said when confronted with the details, Garcia admitted that their story was true.

"He said he didn't think he wrapped [the little girl] too tightly," the probable-cause statement reads.

The officer said Garcia told him he had put the child in the closet one other time.

The investigation is ongoing.

At the time of his arrest, Garcia was already on probation for discharging a firearm at a home.

A judge set Garcia's bond at $450,000. A status conference has been scheduled for Dec. 22, and a preliminary hearing for Dec. 27.