Saturday, June 23, 2018
Public safety

DCF made multiple visits to home of Tampa baby before he died

TAMPA — Anjenette Lopez admitted to smoking pot when her children weren't around. Her boyfriend, Viviano Pinto, was discovered to be a fugitive from Ohio. She'd been investigated twice to evaluate her ability to care for her four young children, according to a report released Friday from the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Both times Lopez, 34, of Tampa passed.

Now, DCF is working with Tampa police to investigate the death of Lopez's youngest son, 1-year-old Jayden Luis Sarria, who died Monday of head trauma. DCF removed Lopez's other three children from her care.

Lopez was arrested Thursday and charged with aggravated manslaughter. U.S. marshals arrested Pinto, 35, in Ohio on Friday and booked him on the same charge.

Tampa police said Jayden fractured his skull on Sept. 20 but wasn't taken to Florida Hospital for treatment until Sept. 27. During that week, Jayden's injury became so pronounced a friend described it as "Elephant man," police said. He was eventually transferred to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, where he died. His mother told police he slipped in the bathtub and hit his head.

"The death of Jayden is a tragedy. The idea that anyone would harm a child provokes outrage and remains difficult for most of us to comprehend," Terri Durdaller, a spokesman for the DCF, said in a statement Friday. "We have provided multiple service interventions to this family and we continue to review the effectiveness of the services placed in the home most recently."

When Jayden was injured before, Lopez said she took him to the hospital immediately, according to the DCF report.

Jayden was taken to Florida Hospital-Carrollwood in June with small burns on his back, right wrist and pinky toe. Lopez told investigators he came in contact with a hot curling iron to burn his wrist and toe. She said he was accidentally burned on his back when Pinto was ironing a shirt on the bed. When the child protection investigator visited in July, Lopez showed them the hospital discharge papers and care instructions. But that day, an investigator also noticed a bruise on Jayden's ear that neither Lopez or Pinto could explain, the report said.

Lopez also refused to take a drug test during that interview, admitting she smokes marijuana when her kids aren't around. Pinto was arrested in July on a warrant from Ohio.

Investigators closed the case in August and left Jayden in his mother's care. It wasn't the first time Lopez had been visited and drugs were a part of the conversation.

On Oct. 8, 2011, child protection investigators were called after a shouting match between an intoxicated Lopez and Jayden's father, Jorge Sarria, 26, spilled outside of Lopez's home. Despite Tampa police reporting Lopez had slurred speech and dilated pupils, the investigator only recommended intervention services. She and Sarria had had two children taken into DCF custody before, the investigator wrote. Lopez explained her intoxicated appearance by saying she took something to calm down but admitted the pill wasn't hers. The investigator cited support from the maternal grandmother, an injunction against Sarria and a full-time job as reasons not to remove the four children at that time.

That investigation was closed Dec. 24, 2011, as "not substantiated for family violence or substance misuse."

Lopez remained in Hillsborough County jail Friday in lieu of $250,000 bail. Tampa police said Pinto fled to Lorain, Ohio, after Jayden was injured. U.S. marshals tracked him to a relative's home and took him to the Lorain County jail Friday.

Times staff writer Marissa Lang and Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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