Sunday, February 14, 2010

Murdered 8-month-old boy laid to rest; father "only suspect" (Carthage, Missouri)

Eddie Salazaar, Jr. has now been laid to rest. Rest in peace, little angel.

It is not typical for an 8-month-old to "disappear" at the hands of kidnappers, only to be found dead in a nearby river. No suprise that the "kidnapper" tale turned out to be a creative fabrication of Daddy's doing.

However, it is unfortunately becoming quite typical for unemployed or underemployed fathers to take on babysitting duties while the mother is working, only to have the child die or become severely injured. Usually, it's because the baby cried (or something like that), so Daddy "snapped" and shook and/or battered the child. In fact, in the current economy where male unemployment is higher than female unemployment, these kinds of crimes have skyrocketed. Many fathers are just not equipped to do infant care, for whatever reason. And a general lack of maternity leaves and affordable daycare doesn't help matters either.

Published February 13, 2010 11:38 pm - CARTHAGE, Mo. — For the town of Carthage, grief has become the universal language in the wake of the death of 8-month-old Eddie Salazar Jr.

Eddie Salazar Jr. laid to rest during graveside services

By Greg Grisolano

CARTHAGE, Mo. — For the town of Carthage, grief has become the universal language in the wake of the death of 8-month-old Eddie Salazar Jr.

“When you get a case that starts out like this, and everybody is looking for the child, I really think people get attached to the child,” said Carthage police Chief Greg Dagnan. “And then when you discover that the child is dead, it makes a really big impact on the community. For our community it’s an extremely significant event and anywhere you go it’s the topic. It’s a tragedy.”

The boy was the subject of an Amber Alert after his father, Eddie Salazar Sr., told police on Feb. 4 that two men in masks broke into the family’s home at 227 E. Mound St. and abducted the child. Less than 24 hours later, authorities learned that the boy’s father fabricated the kidnapping story.

The baby’s body was discovered by searchers last Saturday afternoon in Spring River, a half-mile downstream from a bridge on County Road 85, east of Carthage. Salazar Sr., 29, has been designated by authorities as the “only” suspect in an investigation of the death, police have said.

Baby Eddie was the biological son of Salazar and Yadira Aguilar.

More than 100 members of the town’s Hispanic community attended the baby’s funeral services at Ullmer Funeral Home in Carthage on Saturday afternoon. Rich voices joined in a Spanish version of the hymn “When We All Get to Heaven,” accompanied by Pastor Elario Andrade on guitar.

Visitors wept as they passed the child’s baby-blue casket, which the family left open during the services. A family member who declined to be interviewed told The Joplin Globe that the decision to leave the casket open was made by the family.

The funeral services were conducted in Spanish, with Andrade and Pastor Wilfred Portillo officiating.

Dozens of family and friends attended the boy’s graveside services at Park Cemetery, where silver heart-shaped balloons were released at the grave. Several family members also took turns pitching shovelfuls of earth into the grave, as a way of paying their respects and honoring their dead.

Salazar Sr. pleaded not guilty to charges of filing a false police report during an arraignment in Jasper County Associate Circuit Court on Thursday. He remains in custody at the Jasper County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

The defendant was appointed Maleia Cheney, a public defender, to represent him, and a hearing is set for March 3 for his next court appearance on the misdemeanor offense.

Authorities continue to decline to comment on whether the father provided any other explanation of what happened to the baby or how his body wound up in the river. Investigators have said the mother was at work at the time and is not a suspect in the baby’s death.

Dagnan said police are still working some leads in the case, but had no new developments to report as of Saturday. No additional charges are expected to be filed against the father until authorities receive an autopsy report later this week.

The investigation is certainly not over,” he said. “The big thing is we’re still waiting for the autopsy results.”