Police in western New York are searching for a missing 14-month-old boy whose mother’s dead body was found in the woods, stuffed in a plastic bag.
On Friday, a statewide AMBER Alert was issued for the toddler.
Authorities said the boy, named Owen Hidalgo-Calderon, has brown eyes and short brown hair. He weighs about 30 lbs., stands around two feet tall and is known to need asthma medication. It is unknown what he is wearing.
“The child was taken under circumstances that lead the police to believe that he is in imminent danger of serious harm and/or death,” the alert, issued by Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, reads.
Owen was last seen on May 16 — just two days after his birthday — with his mother, Selena Hidalgo-Calderon, 18.
Her body was found on Wednesday in a plastic bag, partially buried between two logs and covered with soil and branches on the Joy Road farm in Sodus where she and her boyfriend — 25-year-old Edward Reyes — lived and worked, Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts said at a press conference on Thursday.
Reyes, who is from Mexico, was later seen on a hunter’s trail camera traveling in and out of the woods with a shovel, authorities said. He was arrested on Wednesday night on charges of tampering with physical evidence and is being held on $25,000 bail in the Wayne County Jail pending a court appearance on May 29.
“[He] stated he removed the deceased body of Selena from the home and buried her in the woods behind the home,” Virts said. “He has not stated that he committed the homicide. Reyes made no statements as to the whereabouts of Owen.”
Reyes is not Owen’s father, who is Guatemalan and is in Guatemala. He has been notified about Owen’s disappearance, authorities said.
Police are investigating Selena’s death as a homicide and “absolutely” believe she was “murdered,” though the Monroe County Medical Examiner Office has not yet released a cause of death.
They are working with authorities from Mexico to see if Reyes has a past criminal record.
As for a motive, Virts did not know what led to Selena’s death but said that family and friends told police that she had sought refuge for domestic abuse in the past.
Virts said in a press conference on Friday that they’ve had 145 people from multiple organizations including 12 different fire departments and the Federation of Search and Rescue looking for Owen. Searches will continue throughout the weekend.
“As a grandfather and as a father, my heart tells me that we will find young Owen. But my experience in law enforcement, I believe this will be a recovery,” Virts added. “I hope he is alive but I don’t believe that he is alive because of the time period.”
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According to the Workers’ Center of Central New York, Selena has been in the U.S. since November 2016. Spokesperson Rebecca Fuentes told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that Selena was from Guatemala and was seeking asylum.
Virts made it clear her immigration status had nothing to do with how police would investigate her alleged murder.
“I don’t care about your race, creed, color, national origin or religion,” he said. “If you are a victim, we will fight for you, we will triumph for you. If you are a perpetrator and you have abused somebody, we are going to hunt you down.”
Meanwhile, Selena’s mother, Estela Calderon, is grieving the heartbreaking loss.
“My daughter and my grandson were my life,” she said in a statement issued by the center. “She was my first born and I feel like a piece of my heart is gone.”