US

Mother Charged After Body of Girl Found in Apartment Closet

By Lorenz Duchamps

HOUSTON—The mother of a 5-year-old girl whose body was found in a Houston apartment closet was charged on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Police said Priscilla Torres admitted to hiding her daughter’s body—identified as Sierra Patino—in the apartment complex after she died from ingesting chemicals.

Patino’s body was found by relatives Monday, who visited Torres and found the 5-year-old girl’s body in the closet. Authorities say Torres was also at the apartment when officers arrived.

After police arrived at the Quail Creek Apartments at 7835 Grow Lane, they found the body in a state of decay, ABC 13 reported.

The 27-year-old Torres was charged with tampering with evidence related to a human corpse.

Torres could face additional charges as the investigation continues, police said in a statement.

According to investigators, Torres was worried her daughter would be taken away from her after calling authorities about what happened. She said she gave the girl a bath and there was a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner within her reach. After leaving the child alone for a few minutes, she returned seeing an empty bottle next to her daughter in the water, KPRC reported.

The girl sadly died the next day. Torres told investigators she wrapped her body in a blanket and put her in the closet. She said she did not call authorities because she “didn’t want to let her daughter go,” according to the news outlet.

Sierra Patino
5-year-old Sierra Patino. (Funeral Expenses for Sierra Patiño via GoFundMe)

Torres also changed her story after further investigation, telling authorities it was at her boyfriend’s house that the girl took a bath and that they both agreed on not calling emergency medical services after the incident.

Her boyfriend has also been interviewed, but he is not yet facing charges, police said.

Lt. Larry Crowson of the Houston Police Department said it’s troubling that the body was apparently in the closet for days, regardless of whether her death was accidental or intentional.

Torres is currently being held at the Harris County jail and it’s not clear if she has an attorney to speak on her behalf.

It is not yet clear if the girl’s death was accidental or caused deliberately. Investigators are waiting on the results of an autopsy to determine how Sierra died.

Torres does not have a criminal background and this is the first time she has been arrested, KPRC reported.

Prosecutors want her bond to be set at $100,000, but the judge set it at $50,000, the station reported.

A family member of Patino started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs in the hope of giving the girl a proper funeral.

“My family has been so devastated from this horrific death that we had to experience. So I ask you from the bottom of our hearts to help us get a proper funeral for our baby girl,” the family member said on the page.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.