HOUSTON, Tx. – Police have arrested a woman after they say she confessed to hiding her 5-year-old daughter’s dead body inside an apartment closet for days after she had died.
According to ABC 13’s Stefania Okolie, Houston Police arrested 27-year-old Priscilla Nicole Torres after she provided the gruesome details of her daughter’s fate. She’s now facing a felony charge of tampering with evidence – her own daughter’s deceased body.
Police say that while Torres was not necessarily responsible for the 5-year-old Sierra Patino’s death, her attempt to hide what had happened was a horrific crime in itself. Sources say that the child had allegedly died when she ingested chemicals inside the apartment. Instead of seeking medical attention, Torres reportedly tucked the girl’s body away in the closet for nearly a week.
Police were tipped off after family members became concerned, having not seen the child for a number of days, which was reportedly not routine.
When those family members stopped by Torres’ apartment, they noticed a foul smell. They asked Torres about it, and she allegedly admitted to them that it was 5-year-old Sierra’s body.
Investigators began looking into the details surrounding the child’s death and the alleged cover-up. The mother’s primary story claimed that a bottle of toilet cleaner had spilled in the bath while she was bathing Sierra. She said that her daughter’s skin began to peel and that she died the next day.
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But then later on, she changed her story to say that her boyfriend was actually the one giving Sierra a bath.
“Her boyfriend offered to give the child a bath while the defendant made dinner,” authorities said. “The door was closed and upon opening the door, she observed her boyfriend with the daughter … She said daughter was exhibiting chemical burns to her extremities, also some redness and bruises to forehead.”
After she passed, Torres allegedly wrapped her in a blanket and placed her in the closet.
She remained in there until Monday, September 2, when police were called to the Quail Creek apartment complex.
Detectives are looking at whether Torres’ story ends up being consistent with the toxicology reports from the medical examiner.
Police also noted that Torres’ boyfriend, whom also lives at the apartment, was questioned by investigators, but has not been arrested or charged in connection with the crime. ABC 13’s report said that Sierra and Priscilla had moved in with him on August 23, just days before she died.
Firefighters at the scene said that the young girl’s body was in a ‘state of decay’ when they found her.
“It’s very troubling,” said HPD Lt. Larry Crowson. “No matter how the child died, you know, whether it’s an accidental or intentional death, for a body to be in a closet for several days, that’s just unthinkable.”
The child’s school released a public statement following the news of her tragic death.
“Galena Park ISD was made aware today and is deeply saddened that the young child who tragically lost her life last week was enrolled at Jacinto City Elementary. Counseling and support have been provided for students and staff, and will continue as long as needed. We extend our heartfelt sympathy and ask our community to pray during this very difficult time.”