Police are now trying to determine Sierra’s cause of death and whether it is consistent with her mother’s story

By Harriet Sokmensuer
September 09, 2019 04:07 PM

The boyfriend of the Texas mother whose daughter’s body was found decomposing in a closet is accused of helping hide her body.

On Labor Day, the body of 5-year-old Sierra Patino was found decaying in a closet in a Houston apartment. Her mother, 27-year-old Priscilla Nicole Torres, was later arrested and charged with tampering with evidence namely a human corpse.

Torres allegedly told investigators Sierra had died after ingesting chemicals on Aug. 27 and her body had been kept in the closet from the day she died until she was found.

On Friday, Torres’ live-in boyfriend, 30-year-old Santiago Esparza, was charged with tampering with evidence, Houston police announced on Twitter. He is accused of helping Torres hide Sierra’s body.

Houston Police Department

Police are now trying to determine Sierra’s cause of death and whether it is consistent with her mother’s story.

Sierra started kindergarten on Aug. 21, ABC13 reports. The following day, Sierra missed school when Torres said she was sick. That same day, the pair moved into Esparza’s apartment.

Although Torres allegedly originally claimed Sierra had ingested the chemicals when a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner fell into the tub while she was bathing her daughter, she later allegedly said she noticed burns and bruises on her daughter while Esparza was bathing her on Aug. 23.

RELATED: 5-Year-Old Tx. Girl’s Body Is Found Decaying in Closet, and Mom Is Arrested

When confronted, Esparza allegedly told Torres it was an accident, she allegedly told police. Sierra soon became ill, started throwing up and lost consciousness before dying on Aug. 27.

Torres allegedly said she didn’t call police out of fear of Child Protective Services. When Sierra died, Torres allegedly said she wrapped her body in a blanket before hiding it in the closet.

The couple allegedly stayed in the apartment for three days as Sierra’s body decomposed. Torres allegedly told police “she did not want to let her go,” KHOU reports.

Houston Police Department

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On Aug. 30, Torres and Esparza left their apartment and checked into a Jacinto City hotel for the weekend. They returned home on Labor Day.

That same day, Sierra’s body was found after her grandparents went to check on her after not seeing her for several days.

When her grandparents arrived at the home, they asked Torres what smelled so bad. Torres allegedly confessed that the foul odor was Sierra’s decaying body hidden in a closet.

Torres is being held on a $50,000 bond. Prosecutors fear she is a flight risk and accuse Esparza of being a known gang member with ties to Mexico. Attorney information was not available Monday. Esparza is being held on a $100,000 bond.