The mother of a 5-year-old and the mother’s boyfriend were arrested Thursday after the child died from what authorities deemed injuries sustained during prolonged and extreme physical abuse. Jose Angel Ruiz, 25, and Katrina Mendoza, 22, were each charged with one count of felony injury to a child.
Mendoza brought her unresponsive daughter to Southwest General Hospital in San Antonio on Feb. 7. Police called to the scene noted extensive and horrific evidence of torture on the victim’s body in an affidavit, writing that the child’s injuries likely arose from “continuous physical abuse over a period of time,” according to local station Fox 29. The exact cause of death has not been released.
Mendoza described a litany of abuse allegedly perpetrated by Ruiz. Mendoza said she had called her boyfriend for help disciplining the 5-year-old. She told police that the punishment began to escalate into abuse roughly three weeks before her daughter’s death. Mendoza, the victim, and Mendoza’s 6-year-old daughter had moved in with her boyfriend around the same time.
She said she saw Ruiz shovel dog feces into the victim’s mouth as he yelled at the child. He did the same thing with a sock soaked in urine, she said. He yanked the sock from the child’s mouth so hard that he pulled out two of her teeth, Mendoza added. Mendoza also said that Ruiz hit the child, sometimes with a belt and sometimes with hands that bore several rings, which inflicted cuts. The 6-year-old child corroborated Mendoza’s story, according to the affidavit.
The child was missing large patches of hair from her head and had suffered severe bruising and swelling all over her body, along with cuts and scratches. Her hands, in particular, were bruised and swollen from defensive wounds, police said. Several of her toenails were gone. The affidavit reads, “The victim’s legs were covered with bruises, some of which appeared to be patterned, which is what is commonly seen when belts or other objects are used to inflict injury.”
For his part, Ruiz told police that he only “slapped her on the ass” and put the child in a corner. He claimed the victim’s mother had carried out the greater portion of the abuse and that her 6-year-old sister had pulled out the hair.