Mother and Boyfriend Charged After Body of 5 Year Old Was Found in Closet

Priscilla Torres, 27, and her daughter, five year old Sierra Patino.

The stories coming out are conflicting, but the fact of the matter is that a five year old girl that had just started kindergarten on August 21st is now dead, and those responsible for her care concealed her death for a period of time.


The part that is consistent from one story to another is that Sierra had just started school, but the following day, she was too sick to attend.  On August 23rd, she was injured with what appear to be chemical burns.  It is unclear if they were external only, or if the chemical was also ingested.  Sierra died of her injuries on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 27th.  Rather than calling 911, her mother and her mother's boyfriend concealed her body in a closet and left town for several days.


The majority of the stories reported already on this case seem to focus on the fact that Santiago Esparza, 30, is a known gang member with a criminal record dating back to 2006 when he was arrested at 17, and includes a charge of injury to a child, his own son, in 2007.  The last time he had been arrested before this charge of tampering with a human body was 2015.

Santiago Esparza, 30, of Middleton, Texas

On Sunday, one day after Esparza was ordered to be held on $100,000 bond, he gave a jailhouse interview to KTVB 7.


"Why would I give that girl a bath? said Esparza. "I didn't give that girl a bath. Would you let me give your daughter a bath? No, right? Then why would I give her daughter a bath?"  He additionally stated, "I turned myself in. I wouldn't be here if I was guilty. I'd be long gone. I turned myself in to face this because I didn't do what she said I did. I'm here to face all this."


The mother, Pricilla Torres, however, has made several conflicting statements to authorities regarding what happened to her daughter.  Initially she told investigators that she had placed her daughter into the bath and left for a few moments.  Whens he returned, she stated that she had found a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner floating in the tub and noticed that her daughter's skin was beginning to peel.  At another time, she indicated that Esparza was giving her daughter a bath with the bathroom door closed, while she cooked dinner.  Eventually, when the door opened, she said she saw her daughter's skin peeling and bruises on her daughter's forehead.


"She's innocent until proven guilty. At this point, she's innocent," defense attorney Bryan Savoy said. "We do not litigate cases in the media. We litigate cases in the courtroom."


What they don't seem to be arguing over is that Torres and Esparza did agree to not take the child for emergency treatment when the injury occurred, and that they seem to have agreed to conceal her death after it happened.

Both are charged with tampering with a human body at this time, and neither has been charged with either manslaughter or homicide.  Torres is being held on $50,000 bond.