Baby found bleeding in trash bin, cousin arrested

May 15, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — An unthinkable crime shook a quiet neighborhood here Monday as a 7-month-old baby was slashed in the neck, snatched from his bed and left for dead face down in a garbage bin.

The baby, Anthony Escalera of Imperial, was in serious condition this morning in Children's Hospital in San Diego.

Those at the crime scene Monday said if the baby had not been found when he was — about 15 minutes after police received the call — the baby may not have survived.

The baby's loss of blood and the heat inside the bin would have proved deadly, they said, if much more time had passed.

Imperial police and county Sheriff's Office investigators arrested the baby's cousin, Benjamin Jason Escobar, 19, of Huntington Park, for the attack.


Escobar was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and booked into the county jail, where he remained today with his bail set at $100,000.

Police were unsure what motivated the crime.

The attack occurred at a home in the 600 block of Yucca Street in the Sandalwood Glenn housing development.

According to Imperial police Investigator Ray Valenzuela, the attack occurred sometime before 3 p.m.

That was when the baby's grandmother, who was baby-sitting, went to check on Anthony, who she thought was asleep in his bed. In his place she found two blood puddles in the bed.

The grandmother, whose name was not released, began a frantic search, running to homes on the block. Neighbors joined in the search and police were called.

When officers arrived they joined in the search.

Valenzuela said it was about 3:15 p.m. when he checked a black trash bin across the street on the side of a home. In that bin he saw a white trash bag.

Under the trash bag was the baby.

Valenzuela grabbed the baby and paramedics were called to the scene.

Before they arrived an off-duty Calexico Fire Department paramedic who lives in the area noticed he was barely breathing.

The paramedic, who asked not to be identified, started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He continued to do so until the baby started to breathe more normally and paramedics arrived.

Anthony was taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center, where he was stabilized. He had lost a lot of blood and his temperature was elevated.

Anthony was then flown by airplane to Children's Hospital, where by midnight he was listed in serious condition. A nursing supervisor there said Anthony's temperature was becoming more normal. She said his injuries were not life-threatening.

Once the effort to rescue the baby ended, police and sheriff's investigators launched into their investigation.

Valenzuela said the only people home at the time of the incident were the grandmother, an uncle and Escobar, who had been living at the house for about two weeks. The baby's parents, whose names were not available, were not home.

Valenzuela said authorities arrested Escobar after they "found a bloodied shirt in a trash can at the residence, which we believe belongs to the suspect."

There also was information from witnesses who said they saw Escobar in the area of the trash bin where the baby was found.

For those who live on the 600 block of Yucca, the crime was shocking. They said it is a street in which nearly every house is occupied by those in law enforcement and firefighters, where families get together and children can play safely in their yards.

One neighbor who asked not to be identified said, "This is a terrible day. At first it was a normal day. Everyone was mowing their lawn."

That neighbor said he did see Escobar standing around when others were searching for the baby.

"He was just real calm," the neighbor said. "Everyone was hectic except for him."

The neighbor added, "When they brought the baby out it was just limp."

The neighbor criticized the action of police officers, questioning why there was no ambulance called to the scene to be on standby as the search was done.

"If the paramedics did not live in the area the baby would not have survived," the neighbor said.

The off-duty paramedic who was the first to treat the baby said the baby's breathing was shallow. He said after the baby started to breathe on his own, he covered the baby's neck wounds with the help of his wife, who is a nurse.

The trash bin the baby was placed in belongs to Ruben Beltran, a Calexico firefighter who lives on the block. Beltran said he was asleep when the crime occurred.

"I didn't hear a damn thing. I didn't hear anything," Beltran said.

Throughout the day police had a portion of Yucca blocked off with yellow tape. They remained at the crime scene until late in the night and were continuing to investigate the matter this morning.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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