BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) – The death of a 6-year-old boy in Bella Vista was caused by injuries related to rape and chronic child abuse, according to the Benton County prosecutor.
On Sunday, March 29 at approximately 11:33 p.m., Cathy Torres placed a 911 call from her home on Cresswell Circle in Bella Vista saying her son had stopped breathing, according to a probable cause affidavit released on Tuesday (April 7).
When emergency medical personnel from the Bella Vista Fire Department arrived at the house they found the boy unresponsive and lying on his back on the living room floor, the affidavit states. Before leaving the Torres' home to take Maurice Isaiah Torres, who goes by Isaiah, to Mercy Hospital in Bella Vista, the medics noticed numerous lacerations and severe bruising on the child and notified the Bella Vista Police Department about the situation, according to the affidavit.
When the child arrived at the hospital doctors attempted lifesaving treatment, but were unable to revive him and Isaiah was pronounced dead at the hospital at 12:23 a.m. on Monday, March 30, according to the affidavit.
The firefighters who responded to the 911 call told police that when they asked Mauricio and Cathy Torres about what happened to their son, the parents told them they had just returned from a camping trip and were unaware of any event or medical history that would have caused Isaiah's condition, the affidavit states.
Upon closer inspection, police found cuts on Isaiah's head, knees and upper feet, as well as multiple wounds on his back and major bruising on his right side, the affidavit states. As doctors told police Isaiah also had signs of blunt trauma to his head, trunk and arms and legs, as well as multiple superficial lacerations and bruises, a nurse notified them that blood had been found in the boy's rectum, according to the affidavit.
Doctors told police that Mauricio Torres attributed the injuries to Isaiah's back to a chemical burn in that past and that he had been treated for the injuries at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, the affidavit states.
Officers took the entire Torres family to the police department where Mauricio and Cathy were separated, according to the affidavit.
In her interview, Cathy Torres told police the family had gone on an overnight camping trip to Hollister, Missouri and arrived home around 10 p.m. on March 29, the affidavit states. She said Isaiah had complained of a stomachache earlier that day, but fell asleep on the drive home after taking some Pepto-Bismol and appeared normal when the family got home, according to the affidavit. Torres told officers she also gave Isaiah some green tea before he went to bed because his stomach was still hurting and when she returned moments later, he wasn't breathing, the affidavit states.
When a detective confronted Cathy Torres stating the injuries on Isaiah's body appeared to be a result of child abuse, Cathy denied causing the injuries, but when asked if her husband caused them she stated "I didn't do it, let's say that," according to the affidavit. When confronted about Isaiah's nose appearing to have been broken, she replied that it had always been a little crooked, the affidavit states.
Cathy Torres told detectives that she and Mauricio rarely spank the kids and that her husband is loving with the children, according to the affidavit.
In his interview, Mauricio Torres confirmed that the family arrived home from their trip late Sunday night and that Isaiah had complained of a stomachache, had diarrhea and vomited a small amount, the affidavit states. Mauricio also told detectives he had trouble waking Isaiah up after the ride home and that Cathy had helped him take a shower before putting him to bed, according to the affidavit. Mauricio said he asked Cathy about whether they should take Isaiah to the emergency room, but Cathy said the hospital wouldn't admit him for just a stomachache, the affidavit states.
When detectives confronted Mauricio about the injuries on Isaiah's body, he denied any knowledge of them and stated that police will have to ask his wife about that, according to the affidavit.
After taking a break, detectives said Mauricio was worried about the possibility that Cathy had cut a deal with police to blame him for Isaiah's death and told officers that whenever he asked about the child's injuries Cathy told him he fell, the affidavit states. Mauricio went on to tell detectives that he had never witnessed Cathy doing anything to Isaiah and that she knows he wouldn't betray her, according to the affidavit.
On the morning of March 30, the boy's sisters, ages 6 and 8, who also lived in the Bella Vista home, were taken by DHS to the Children's Advocacy Center in Little Flock so that they could be interviewed regarding the circumstance of Isaiah's death, the affidavit states.
The children told interviewers that Isaiah had a stomachache the day they returned from the camping trip and Mauricio had to carry their brother into the house when they arrived home, according to the affidavit. The sisters helped undress Isaiah so that he could take a bath and when Mauricio carried him into the shower, Isaiah fell, the affidavit states. The girls said Isaiah was acting strange and was not really awake when Cathy put him to bed after the shower, according to the affidavit.
On March 30, The Bella Vista Police Department conducted a search of the Torres' home after obtaining a search warrant. Inside they discovered what appeared to be blood spatter on the walls, floor and ceiling of the master bedroom and attached bathroom, the affidavit states. Officers also found what appeared to be blood spatter on two 15 pound dumbbells found next to the bathtub, a fire poker tool on the floor by the bed, vomit on the bed and a stethoscope, according to the affidavit.
During an interview on March 31, Cathy Torres told detectives the only time she had not been with Isaiah between Friday, March 27 and Sunday, March 29 was when she went to Lowe's for 45 minutes around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, the affidavit states.
Cathy then acknowledged seeing her husband inflict injuries on Isaiah in the past, including hitting the child with a belt, an extension cord and his knuckles, according to the affidavit. She also admitted to seeing Isaiah bleed as a result of some of these incidents, the affidavit states. Cathy stated that when Mauricio would spank Isaiah he would threaten to hit him again if he cried because he had to learn to be a man, according to the affidavit. She then told detectives that she knows it's her fault for what happened to Isaiah because she didn't stop her husband from hurting him, the affidavit states.
Detectives conducted another interview with Cathy Torres on April 1, during which she told them Mauricio hurt Isaiah, but denied knowing about the child being raped despite autopsy findings, the affidavit states. She also told detectives she's scared of her husband and shouldn't have let fear take control of her life, according to the affidavit.
Cathy told detectives the first time she had seen Mauricio hit Isaiah was around January after Christmas, according to the affidavit. She then described two incidents, one involving an electrical cord and another involving Mauricio's knuckles, where Isaiah bled and her husband told him to take a shower, the affidavit states. Cathy stated that after making him take a shower, Mauricio would put Neosporin on Isaiah's injuries, according to the affidavit.
According to Cathy, when her husband would come home from work, their daughters would tattle on Isaiah so Mauricio would gather everyone for a discussion in the bedroom to tell them what they were supposed to do, the affidavit states. Mauricio would then send Cathy and the girls out of the room so that he could spank Isaiah, according to the affidavit.
On April 3, the Bella Vista and Bentonville Police Departments searched a camper trailer used by the Torres family during their trip to Hollister, Missouri, according to the affidavit. Inside they found a large circle of what appeared to be blood on one of the mattresses after it had been flipped over to hide the stain, as well as other areas of suspected blood spatter throughout the camper, the affidavit states.
On March 31, the Arkansas State Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on Isaiah and ruled his manner of death was homicide, according to the affidavit. The cause of death was acute peritonitis due to rectal trauma, which occurred within 24 hours of Isaiah's death, the affidavit states. The medical examiner's office also noted multiple healing, healed and acute blunt force injuries to Isaiah's head, trunk and arms and legs and said the child had suffered repeated, significant abusive injuries, according to the affidavit.
To read the probable cause affidavit from police, click here.
Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith said it’s too early to determine whether he plans to seek the death penalty in this case.
On Tuesday (April 7), Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren ordered Cathy and Mauricio Torres be held without bond at the Benton County Detention Center, upholding the no-bail request made by Smith.
The couple is scheduled to appear in court on May 18.
Smith said all of the Torres children had been home-schooled and the affidavit shows Isaiah and his six-year-old sister shared the same birthday.
The Samaritan Community Center in Rogers and Springdale also released a statement after learning about Isaiah's death. According to the center's Director of Community Relations, Isaiah, his mother and his two sisters had been volunteers there for over three years. Their volunteer efforts were part of a large group of families volunteering as part of Cathy's employer's community outreach program, according to the statement.
"We are absolutely heartbroken to hear of Isaiah's death and our thoughts and prayers are with his two sisters," said Executive Director Debbie Rambo. "Our staff has discussed the family's volunteer efforts with the Bella Vista Police Department as part of their investigation into his death with no unusual or significant information being disclosed."
The Health Care Hiring website lists a Maurice A. Torres as a Medicaid provider in Arkansas. The address listed on the website matches the address listed for Mauricio Torres in the probable cause affidavit. His specialties listed on the website include adolescent and children mental health and ambulatory health care facilities.