CHICAGO (CBS) — A mother and her boyfriend have been charged with attempted arson and concealment of a death, after they set the body of her 4-year-old deceased son on fire inside a vacant home in Englewood.
Alyssa Garcia, 27, her boyfriend, Christian Camerena, 19, and a juvenile offender were all facing charges in the boy’s death. Garcia formulated the plot because she feared the state would take away her other five children.
Police said the child was found wrapped in a burnt blanket in a home in the 1400 block of West Marquette Road around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, after firefighters put out a fire in the home.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office identified the boy as 4-year-old Manuel Aguilar, of the 6400 block of South Wolcott Avenue.
At a bond hearing on Thursday, prosecutors said Manuel was so malnourished that it was initially thought he was a baby.
Investigators said Manuel died at Garcia’s home on July 29. After discovering that her child was not breathing, Garcia washed the body, wrapped him in a towel and put him in the trunk of a car. She then sprayed air freshener to cover up the smell.
She and Camerena later drove the car to a vacant home in Englewood, where the fire was set, according to investigators.
Firefighters were responding to a call of a fire next door, but found no fire at that location. They noticed the smell of lighter fluid in a gangway, and discovered a small fire in the basement of the abandoned home.
Police officers responding to the scene spotted three people running out of the back of a home on the block, and smelled lighter fluid on them. The three were taken into custody, and were charged Thursday morning.
Police said detectives were waiting for autopsy results before deciding if there would be further charges.
The medical examiner’s office said the cause and manner of Manuel’s death are pending further studies.
Garcia was ordered held on $2 million bond.