Crime

Woman threatening to throw herself off Seven Mile Bridge may have killed her child. Boy's body found inside freezer in Homestead townhouse

The body of a 4-month-old baby boy was found inside a freezer in a house in the gated community of The Isles at Oasis in Homestead.
The body of a 4-month-old baby boy was found inside a freezer in a house in the gated community of The Isles at Oasis in Homestead.

A woman threatening suicide by jumping off the Seven Mile Bridge Sunday may have killed her young child. The body of a young boy was found that afternoon inside a freezer in a Homestead townhouse matching the address the woman gave police.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to reports of a suicidal woman on the Marathon span about 3 p.m. They held her down, and as they did, she said she threw her 4-month-old baby boy in the water, said Chief Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman.

The woman, Paola Vargas-Ortiz, 37, quickly recanted that statement and said the child was in Homestead, Rios said. Based on the original statement, the Coast Guard initiated a search for the child from Boot Key to Knights Key, an operation that included shoreline searches, Rios said.  

The crews called off the search about 30 minutes later after the Homestead Police Department reported that the child was found on the mainland. 

Miami-Dade Police Department spokeswoman Detective Robin Pinkard said in an e-mail that a boy's body was found inside a townhouse at 2482 NE 3 Court in the Isles at Oasis subdivision in Homestead.

A security guard outside the gated community off SW 152 Avenue would not allow a reporter entry to interview neighbors. 

"Right now, they're in mourning," the guard said Wednesday. "It's not appropriate." 

Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin said Vargas-Ortiz told deputies several stories about the whereabouts of her child. 

Deputies wanted to know because they noticed a child safety seat and toys in the back of her car, which was parked in the parking lot of the Old Seven Mile Bridge. First she said the child was in the water. Then she told deputies the boy was with relatives. Finally, she told them he was in a freezer in her house in Homestead, Herrin said. Deputies immediately called Homestead police. 

Vargas-Ortiz told deputies she ingested rat poison. Deputies loaded her into an ambulance and escorted her to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Her condition was not available at press time. 

Pinkard said no charges have been filed against anyone pending the determination of a cause of death, which was not released by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Department.  

 

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