Las Vegas Sun

July 26, 2014

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Police: Mother said she was ‘happy’ after son’s drowning

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Mary Jane Lopez

A 22-year-old Las Vegas woman whose toddler son drowned in a pool last week told police she was “happy that he’s gone and don’t have to suffer anymore,” according to a Metro Police arrest report released Wednesday.

The boy, 2-year-old Geno Valerio, had diabetes and his mother, Mary Jane Lopez, was his primary caregiver, police said.

She was booked Tuesday into the Clark County Detention Center on a count of felony child neglect with substantial bodily harm resulting in death. The boy’s grandmother found him May 2 in the family’s pool.

Before police were called, Lopez said she and her mother sat in the living room and took turns holding the dead child while they discussed possibly disposing of the boy’s body without involving authorities, the police report said.

She said she told her mother, “I think it will be easier that I don’t have to worry about him any more, about him suffering from his diabetes and measuring his insulin,” investigators said in their report. She also reportedly told her mother “I’m happy he left us now and not when he got older,” the report stated.

Investigators interviewed the boy’s grandmother, who adamantly denied such a conversation took place. She said there was no delay between when the boy was found and when police were called.

According to the report, police responded to the home in the 4800 block of Santa Barbara Street, which is north of the Tropicana Avenue interchange at U.S. 95, after receiving a 911 call in which the caller stated, “I don’t need medical, I need the police to come, my grandson drowned,” the report stated. When the dispatcher asked where the child was, the caller responded, “in my arms, he’s dead,” and said the child had been underwater for about three hours.

The caller, later identified as the boy’s grandmother, is heard saying, “I can’t believe this, Mary Jane,” the report said.

Investigators responded to the home and pronounced the boy dead. They interviewed Lopez and the boy’s grandmother and grandfather, all of whom lived in the home along with Lopez’s three young children.

They determined the child had been unsupervised for about three hours, the report said.

The police report indicated Lopez told police she was angry with Geno’s father because he refused to come home and spend time with her and the children, so she went for a walk and left the children without informing the other adult in the home – her father – that she was leaving.

The boy apparently went outside through a sliding glass door that was left ajar, the police report said. She told investigators she knew the door was open when she left, the report said, and admitted the boy’s death was probably her fault because she should have been watching him, the report indicated.

The boy’s grandmother said no attempts to resuscitate the boy were made because his body was cold and his lips were purple, police said.

A Clark County Coroner’s Office spokeswoman said Wednesday that an official cause of death was still pending.

Lopez is also facing two counts of felony child neglect for her 1-year-old twins, who were also left unattended. Police said earlier this week that the two younger children were taken into the custody of Child Protective Services.

In April 2009, Child Protective Services began an investigation into the boy’s medical care after his parents were suspected of not caring for him properly. A nurse was hired to visit the family and teach childcare skills, authorities said, and the investigation was closed in June 2009.

Lopez is being held without bail. She is scheduled to appear before a judge Thursday.

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