A Kansas City woman and her boyfriend have been charged in the death of the woman’s 2-year-old son, who appeared to be severely malnourished and lived in deplorable conditions, according to Jackson County prosecutors.
Saritza Serrano, 25, and Ruben Yepez-Ruiz, 24, were each charged Friday with felony child abuse resulting in death.
Police were called on Nov. 16 to a home in the 2300 block of Norton Avenue, where a 2-year-old reportedly had a heart attack.
The boy’s cheeks and stomach were sunken in, and his ribs and spine were easily visible through his skin, according to a probable cause statement filed with the charges.
Fire crews and paramedics were already at the home and tried to revive the child, but he died at the scene.
Paramedics told police that the boy was severely malnourished and appeared to have been dead for at least an hour before the paramedics arrived.
Detectives noted that the house where the boy lived was unclean and cluttered. Evidence of rat feces was found throughout the house and inside the bedroom where the boy was found.
The floor and ceiling in the bedroom closet appeared to have smears of human feces. Finger streaks made with the feces were also in the closet, according to court records.
Traces of either blood or feces were found on the wall next to the toddler bed in the bedroom where the victim was found.
Serrano, the boy’s mother, allegedly told investigators that the boy had been sick for three weeks, according to court records. She said she stopped giving the boy medicine after his fever broke and he refused to eat solid foods.
Serrano said she gave the boy milk and baby food in a bottle. Serrano said she never took the boy to the hospital when he was sick because she could treat him with medicine as she had in the past.
The day the boy died, Serrano said, she had given him a bottle with milk and baby food about 8 a.m.
Serrano told investigators that she did not see the boy again until about 5 p.m. when she went upstairs to give him a bath.
She went to the boy’s room and found him unresponsive. Serrano then realized the boy had died.
Serrano called her boyfriend, Yepez-Ruiz about 90 minutes later and told him what happened. Yepez came home shortly after 8 p.m. and called his mother, who told him to call 911.
Yepez- Ruiz told investigators that the boy’s father lived in Puerto Rico and was not in the boy’s life.
Yepez-Ruiz said Serrano told him that the boy was sick, but he never checked on the boy or sought medical attention.
He also never made sure that the boy had been fed, according to prosecutors.