It’s an absolutely heartbreaking story out of the Bronx, where twin toddlers died Friday inside a sweltering hot car.

It happened after police say their father forgot them in the back seat while he went to work.

Phoenix Rodriguez and his sister, Mariza Rodriguez, were both 1-year-old.

Police said they were strapped in their car seats in their father’s Honda Accord from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday while it was parked at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Kingsbridge.

Now their father, 39-year-old Juan Rodriguez of New City in Rockland County, is charged with two counts of manslaughter and two counts of criminally negligent homicide.

Police said Rodriguez was not on drugs and was not drunk when the incident happened.

They say he got into his car after he left work Friday and drove a short distance before he realized his children were still strapped in the back seat.

According to an eyewitness, Pedro Roman, said he saw Rodriguez driving erratically – then he suddenly stopped his car at Kingsbridge Terrace and W. Kingsbridge Rd.

“It’s like he didn’t know what to do — ‘where am I going with these babies?’ ” said Roman.

Rodriguez jumped out of his car.

“He went to the back and opened the doors, and then he started freaking out,” said Roman. 

Roman said the father became frantic.

“He started to run across the street — but there were too many people.”

That’s when Roman realized what had happened. 

“I ran over there and looked in, and there were two babies,” said Roman. “They were just babies. … Everybody was calling 911.”

Roman said Rodriguez was distraught.

“He was just saying, ‘Oh my God, oh my God.’ He was crying. He didn’t know what to do. He was holding his head, saying ‘Oh my God, oh my God.’”

Police rushed to the scene and quickly determined the children were dead.

“It’s not a good thing to see. Especially when they’re babies,” he said.

On Friday evening, detectives interviewed Rodriguez at the 52nd Precinct stationhouse.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Rodriguez and his wife, Marissa, threw a party at their home in New City to celebrate the twins’ first birthday.

“They had a big party — a bouncy house, the whole thing,” said a neighbor of the couple, who live in an area of single-family homes on wide lots surrounded by trees. “We offered a driveway to their guests. They rented a couple of tents.”

The couple also has a 4-year old son, and Rodriguez has two older children from his previous marriage, according to neighbors.

“They’re always happy. They’re hardworking. They’re honest people,” said another neighbor. “It’s beyond crazy. I have three young kids — it’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”

They said it’s a tragedy that just happened to people who weren’t bad people.

“They are good people. There’s never anything negative that comes out of that house. … They do the right thing,” the second neighbor added. “This doesn’t sit well with me. How do you live your life after something like this?”

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Earlier this week, we shared another disturbing child involving an innocent baby – this one out of Washington.

A Seattle man with more than 70 criminal convictions was arrested by authorities after allegedly throwing hot coffee on a baby just two days after he was released from jail.

Francisco Calderon had just spent the last eight months in jail following a random brutal assault on a perfect stranger in public. 

According to public records, Calderon has a laundry list of criminal convictions in the past. The man has been convicted 70 times, with 14 of those cases stemming from assault charges.

So why is Calderon repeatedly being released back into the community if he’s obviously a threat to the public? 

It gets worse.

Francisco Calderon was released from jail two days before he assaulted an infant by throwing coffee in its face.


Now the Seattle native is only being held on a misdemeanor in the coffee attack — stationed lockup and somehow avoiding a felony assault charge on a minor.

Q13 Fox reported that the assault took place on Saturday near Westlake Park. Witnesses said that Calderon was causing multiple disturbances in the park before randomly approaching a man who was pushing his infant son in a stroller. Calderon lashed out and threw the coffee on the child without provocation. 

The alleged assault took place in Westlake Park in Seattle. (Google Maps)


In order to protect his baby, the father allegedly knocked Calderon to the ground and held him there until police arrived and took him into custody. The child was reported to be okay.

“Mr. Calderon is being released without conditions on the felony charge,” King County District Court Judge Anne Harper said. “He has been filed in Seattle Municipal Court on a misdemeanor charge … he remains detained but not on the felony. That is by decision of King County Prosecutor’s Office and Seattle City Attorney.”

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Calderon was named in a report titled, ‘System Failure’, which documented the criminal history of 100 repeat offenders in Seattle and the failures of the criminal justice system on behalf of those individuals. 

The report noted that Calderon was the cause of “frequent, random assaults on innocent victims around Seattle.”

Calderon had been out of prison for just two days before committing the violent act. He had been sentenced to a year for the assault against the random man on Capitol Hill and served eight months. 


Had the prosecutor gotten their way, Calderon would have only served 30 days and undergone a treatment program.

This was the recommendation of a criminal prosecutor for a man who has a long track record of random violence enacted against others in public. What’s more, when Judge Ed McKenna declined the suggestion and instead handed out the max sentence and gave Calderon a year in jail, city Attorney Pete Holmes and King County’s director of public defense Anita Khandelwal called for McKenna’s resignation.

“The City Attorney and the Public Defender are adversaries in the courtroom and disagree on many matters of criminal justice policy; rarely do we stand together on issues. We do so today because of our shared concern that you are disregarding your duty to act with impartiality and integrity. Recent political turmoil about Seattle’s criminal legal system calls for strict adherence to the judicial tenet of impartiality, rather than self-aggrandizing disregard of it. Those appearing before you deserve nothing less,” the letter read.

McKenna fired back, defending his decision to give the max sentence to the violent offender.

“I was elected to this position by my peers and enjoy continued support from the bench. The court, as the judicial branch of City government, is a separate branch and independently elected and should act free of outside influence. An independent, fair and impartial judiciary is imperative to preserving principles of justice and rule of law.”

Let’s hope Calderon finally gets the justice he deserves.