Alyssa Garcia is 27 years old and lives in Chicago with her teenage boyfriend. She is also the mom of six children, ranging in age from 10 to a pair of newborn twins born prematurely only about a week ago. But also in the past week, according to a report by WGN TV, Garcia and her teen lover — along with the teen's older brother — wrapped the dead body of her four-year-old son in a blanket, took the deceased child to an abandoned house, and set little Manny's body on fire.
Why would a mom commit such a horrifying act on her own deceased child? The answer, according to a prosecutors cited by the Chicago Sun-Times and other media outlets in the city, has to do with how a child, described by one of the few neighbors who knew him as "bright and smart," lost his life in the first place.
Body of Chicago boy, 4, found burned, malnourished by authorities: Firefighters found Manuel Aguilar's body i... https://t.co/g393FW4ZGPAs police investigated the heartbreaking discovery made by firefighters on Tuesday, August 2, they uncovered the sickening history of how Alyssa Garcia treated her little boy, whose undersized body initially caused investigators to believe they had discovered a baby no more than nine months old.
— Ig: Ernisreyes_ ✌ (@Ernisreyes_) August 5, 2016
But they soon discovered that the boy had spent months horribly starved by his own mom and her 17-year-old live-in boyfriend, who was also arrested in connection with the arson of the vacant house where Manuel Aguilar was found.
The boyfriend's name was not released because at 17, he remains a juvenile. But his 19-year-old brother, Christian Camarena, was also arrested as the trio were spotted fleeing the burning house about a mile from Garcia's home, after allegedly setting Manny's body aflame inside.
Garcia, police say, kept Manny locked in a room for nearly a year — a room that when police searched the home was filled with the stench of human urine and feces.
The investigators say that Manny, often denied access to bathroom facilities, would hide his feces from his mother because he feared she would punish him severely for defecating on the floor.
The mom also forced the boy to sit naked in the room to prevent him from urinating on his clothes.
Alyssa Garcia gave explicit commands to her other children never to let Manny out of his homemade prison, no matter how much or loudly he screamed. Prosecutors say the boy was often heard screaming, "Let me out!"
The mom frequently struck him anyway, they added, giving the child a black eye on one occasion and beating him across the back with a shoe.
"I didn't know it was that bad. I didn't know," one neighbors interviewed by WBBM TV, said. "He was very bright and smart. He had the prettiest smile. I got kind of attached to him."
The neighbor also said that Manny sometimes showed up at her home complaining that he was hungry.
EN CHICAGO Alyssa García de 27 años quema el cadáver de su hijo para que no le quiten la… https://t.co/tpq2l3g8lc pic.twitter.com/Yczf7FDTvTWhy Garcia singled out Manny for the extreme abuse remains unclear, but the mom had been reported for child neglect in 2012 and lost what were then her four children to state custody, according to a report by WFLD TV News.
— WEB-BLOG-NOTICIAS (@que_noticiases) August 5, 2016
But the children were returned to her in 2015 after the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services determined that Garcia had complied with all of their conditions that would allow her to resume the care of her kids.
According to Cook County prosecutors, who detailed the chilling case against Alyssa Garcia on Thursday, the mom found Manny naked and lifeless on the floor on July 29 in the urine-and-feces-filled room.
But instead of reporting the death, or seeking medical attention in case the child had hope of being revived, Garcia and her teen boyfriend washed the child's body, clothed Manny then stuffed him in the trunk of her car. The body remained for the next four days as Garcia used air freshener and "car trees" in a futile attempt to cover the smell of the decomposing body.
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On August 2, the charges against her say, Garcia, Camarena, and the 17-year-old took the body to a vacant house and burned it.
Bail for Alyssa Garcia was set at $2 million. She was held on charges of attempted arson and concealment of a death, but those charges could be upgraded once an autopsy report reveals the exact cause of little Manny's death.
[Photos via Chicago Police Department]