Friday, May 25, 2018
Public safety

Tampa mom charged after her 1-year-old son dies

TAMPA — Seven days after Anjenette Lopez's 1-year-old son fractured his skull — an injury so severe a friend described it as "Elephant Man" — she decided to take him to a hospital, police say.

By then, doctors weren't able to save him.

Tampa police said the child, whom they identified as 15-month-old Jayden Luis Sarria, died Monday at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital.

On Thursday, officers arrested Lopez and charged her with aggravated manslaughter, a felony, in her son's death.

Lopez, 34, of Tampa told officers she thought the boy had hit his head in the bathtub on Sept. 20. She took Jayden to Florida Hospital on Sept. 27, police said. He was transferred to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, where he died Monday.

The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the boy's death a homicide as a result of blunt impact to the head.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Child Protection Unit also has begun an investigation.

"We do have an open case on this family," said Larry McKinnon, a sheriff's spokesman.

Three other children in the home with Lopez were removed, said Terri Durdaller, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families.

"It's a tragic situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time," Durdaller said. "In a case like this, our No. 1 priority is the safety of anyone else in the house under the age of 18. We always look to protect any other siblings in the household."

The DCF said it will issue a final report when it has a comprehensive death review — a process that could take months.

The boy nicknamed "Chinito" loved to have lullabies sung to him, the Gonzalez Funeral Home said in an obituary.

Lopez has no violent criminal history in Florida. She was arrested in 2009 and charged with a misdemeanor of driving with a license that was suspended, canceled or revoked, records show. She was released on her own recognizance.

Patricia Calderon, 50, of Brooksville has known Lopez for 10 years and is the paternal grandmother of her 8-year-old son.

She said she saw Jayden during her twice-a-month trips to Tampa to pick up her grandson for weekend visitation.

"He was an awesome kid," said Calderon, who owns a family interior carpentry business. "He was a very happy kid."

Calderon found out belatedly that her daughter saw Jayden with a black eye after the Sept. 20 incident. "She told my daughter that he had fallen in the bathtub," she said.

After the incident, the DCF took Lopez's other children, ages 8, 3, and 2, into state custody, Calderon said. Her family is working to get her grandson back.

Lopez was booked Thursday night into the Hillsborough County jail, where she was held without bail.

Visitation for Jayden will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Gonzalez Funeral Home, 7209 N Dale Mabry Highway.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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