Edwin Alberto Cruz-Vargas of Polk County, Florida was arrested Monday after authorities accused him of beating his 11-month-old son to death, reports say. Cruz-Vargas was booked into the Polk County Jail on charges of aggravated child abuse and negligent manslaughter of a child. The charges were later raised to first-degree murder. It is unclear whether a bail bond has been set for Cruz-Vargas. It is also unknown whether he has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
Cruz-Vargas and his wife had been together for several months, having said their vows just five months before, sources say. His wife, whose name has been withheld in public reports, apparently spoke to reporters. She evidently told reporters that she had left her children, an 11-month-old boy and a 3-year-old girl, with Cruz-Vargas previously without incident. It is not clear whether she will be facing charges as well.
According to reports, Cruz-Vargas’s wife had planned to attend an appointment Monday afternoon. She told reporters that she planned to take both children with her, but Cruz-Vargas proposed she leave the boy home with him. His wife went on to say that she had fed her son, who she sometimes referred to as “Mr. Smiley,” before she left. She was quoted as telling detectives that the child was in a good mood at the time.
A sheriff’s report described what allegedly happened next. According to the report, Cruz-Vargas tried to teach the small boy how to walk after his wife left. He told police deputies that the training exercises left the child tired and “fussy.” Cruz-Vargas purportedly told investigators that he picked the child up, squeezed him, swore at him, and told him to stop crying. He later told investigators that he squeezed the child too tightly. This, Cruz-Vargas apparently stated, may have broken the child’s back.
The report goes on to say that Cruz-Vargas attempted to teach the young boy to walk once more, but the report says that the child’s legs were wobbly and his crying persisted. Cruz-Vargas then offered the baby a bottle, but the child was reportedly unable to drink and liquid ran from his nose. After this, the boy’s lips turned pale and he lost consciousness, sources indicate. Cruz-Vargas dialed 911 and attempted to revive the child, slapping him in his face and whacking him on the head to get him awake, the report says.
Rescue teams arrived and rushed the child to the Winter Haven Hospital. The report states that medical examiners discovered that the boy’s lower back had been broken; there was swelling in his brain; his diaphragm, which surrounded his spinal column, was torn; and there were eight bruises located on the top of his head and two smaller ones on the back of his head. He had also been bleeding internally.
The child was pronounced dead shortly before 2 in the afternoon. In the report, a medical examiner ruled the death a homicide caused by blunt force trauma. Cruz-Vargas’s wife was shocked by the death of her son. “[Cruz-Vargas] was someone I could trust. He broke my heart,” she told reporters.
Cruz-Vargas does not seem to have made a statement regarding the death. On Friday, his charges were upgraded to first-degree murder.