Eight months after Little Jacob's body washed ashore in Galveston, Texas, police have identified him and arrested his mother and her girlfriend

By Alexia Fernández
June 20, 2018 08:01 PM
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Eight months after a little boy’s body washed ashore in Galveston, Texas, police have identified him and arrested his mother and her girlfriend.

The boy known to police as Little Jacob was identified as 4-year-old Jayden Alexander Lopez of Houston, Texas, Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale said Wednesday in a press conference.

Jayden’s body was found at a Galveston beach last year. Since then, Galveston Police and the FBI spent hundreds of man-hours attempting to locate relatives or any possible clues leading to who he might be.

After first releasing an artist’s impression of the little boy and then taking the rare step of releasing a photograph of the boy’s body, members of the public came forward.

Jaden Lopez Little Jacob
Jayden Alexander Lopez came to be known as “Little Jacob” by Galveston police

Two tips led police to identify him, and a DNA sample allowed them to locate his mother, Rebecca Rivera, as well as her girlfriend Dania Amezquita-Lopez. Both were arrested in connection to his death, Hale said.

“When I arrived in January, my only goal, quite honestly, was not only justice, it was to give this baby a name because we had none,” Hale said. He became police chief earlier this year and Jayden’s case was one of many under his jurisdiction.

missing-boy
The sketch police used in an attempt to identify “Little Jacob.”
| Credit: Galveston Police Department/Facebook

“These guys had a lot of creative ideas,” he continued, referring to the police force’s attempts to identify the little boy.

“One of those ideas was to release a crime scene photo, which was very controversial. We met with experts to see what the public reaction would be and tried to make this determination. On Jan. 30, 2018 we released that crime scene photo of little Jacob,” Hale continued, explaining the photo led to two tips that allowed them to identify Jayden.

“The baby had a name,” he added.

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Rebecca RiveraCredit: Galveston Police Department
Rebecca Rivera, Jayden’s mother, was arrested in connection to his death

His mother Rivera, 34, was arrested for a felony charge of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. She is currently being held at the Galveston County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

Amezquita-Gomez, 31, was arrested for a misdemeanor charge of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence with a $100,000 bond. She is also being held at the Galveston County Jail.

Police have not said how the little boy died. He did not, however, drown.

Jayden’s body washed ashore on Oct. 20, 2017 and no relatives came forward to claim him as their own. Investigators have been working nonstop to identify him, whose naked body was found by pedestrians on an early evening stroll on the beach.

“Little Jacob showed signs of neglect and injuries consistent with abuse; however, none of the injuries appeared to have been fatal,” Galveston Police said on Facebook in January.

Dania Amezquita GomezCredit: Galveston Police Department
Dania Amezquita-Gomez is the Rivera’s girlfriend and was also arrested in connection to Jayden’s death

In January, authorities explained their decision to release a photo of Jayden’s corpse in a statement.

“In an effort to exhaust all possible routes to identify “Little Jacob”, the Galveston Police Department is now releasing a photograph of the boy in hopes that someone seeing the true likeness of the child will confirm their suspicions that they know who this is and that they can help us identify him and the circumstances surrounding his death,” the statement read.

“We continue to believe that someone out there knows this child. Someone has seen him. This child deserves to be identified and properly laid to rest but for this to happen, input from the public is crucial.”