Pedro Araujo has been charged with murder, assault on a child and cruelty to a child
Mariah Araujo
Credit: GoFundMe

A Calif. father was charged Tuesday with the fatal stabbing of his seven-year-old daughter in his home in Oceanside.

Pedro Araujo, 27, faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted in the July 31 death of Mariah, who prosecutors say was stabbed 10 times in the neck and once in the spine, NBC7 reports. The girl, who was found in the bathtub, also suffered stab wounds to her elbow and shoulder, according to the station.

Oceanside Police Department spokesman Tom Bussey says Mariah’s six-year-old sister was in another room of the house during the attack.

“Something could have happened to her,” he tells PEOPLE.

Araujo was arraigned Aug. 6 in San Diego Superior Court and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges of murder, assault on a child and cruelty to a child.

“He took my daughter,” Mariah’s mother Vivian Arzola told NBC7 and Telemundo 20 at the hearing. “It’s not fair, he took my daughter away from me. He deserves to be in jail for life.”

Pedro Araujo
Pedro Araujo
| Credit: Facebook

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According to Bussey, police, paramedics and fire department personnel were called to Araujo’s home around 11 a.m. July 31 after his mother called 911.

“He was in an argument earlier with another family member and he called his mom to come get the kids,” he says.

When his mother arrived, Araujo refused to hand over Mariah.

“He said she could only pick up his six-year-old daughter and she couldn’t have the seven-year-old,” he says.

Bussey says Araujo’s mother noticed that he had blood all over the front of his shirt and hands.

“She thought there was some kind of injury at the house because of the blood and that is why she called the police,” he says.

First responders entered the home and found the girl dead in the bathroom.

“It was one of the worst cases I have seen,” says Bussey, a retired police officer. “It is just unconscionable. I don’t get it. For an adult and a father especially to kill his 7-year-old daughter is beyond me. I have seen a lot in 35 years of doing this job, but nothing like this. It is heartbreaking.”

Araujo is being held without bail. An attorney who could speak on his behalf could not be reached for comment.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for Mariah’s funeral.