Californian man has been accused of drowning his four-year-old daughter in the baptismal pool at Healdsburg’s St. John’s Catholic Church.
Fourty-two-year-old Gerardo Mendoza Ordaz, of Healdsburg, CA, was found wandering behind the local police station on Sunday, November 20. He was naked crying out for help while carrying the lifeless body of his daughter.
“We are relying on testimony of the older son and the statement of the suspect,” explained Healdsburg Police Department Chief Kevin Burke, noting the nine-year-old son was present with the father. “We do believe she was drowned and that it was intentional.”
The young girl, described by neighbors as a “sweet little girl”, was taken to the hospital where she later died, according to KTVU News.
According to Ordaz’s statement, he and his children were at St. John’s Church before arriving at the police station.
“They were the only people inside the church at the time. There were no other parties present. As I understand it, our local Catholic church leaves the doors to the premises unlocked late on Sundays. And so they were in there alone at the time through an unlocked door,” Burke said.
The community remains in shock as news of this tragedy continues to circuit. An autopsy has been scheduled and the formal investigation has not been completed.
Church officials released a statement declining to comment on the case, but Monday’s Mass was canceled.
“Sunday night there was tragedy in the church; a little girl lost her life,” said Sean Rodgers, a pastor at the church, according to KTVU. “When police finish the investigation we will know more. In the meantime, please pray for the family, and the parish community.”
By Abigail James