Authorities in Healdsburg, California, have charged Gerardo Mendoza Ordaz, 42, with the murder of Maria Jose Ordaz-Chavarria, his four-year-old daughter, whom he allegedly drowned this past Sunday in a baptismal font at the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
Afterward, Ordaz turned up in the parking lot of the Healdsburg Police Station, screaming “Help! Police!” He was completely naked. With Ordaz was his nine-year-old son, who was shirtless.
Responders worked frantically for 90 minutes to revive Maria, but to no avail. Doctors at the Healdsburg District Hospital pronounced her dead that evening. An autopsy has been completed, no results have yet been released.
Police stated that the motive for the killing is unclear, although they do believe Ordaz intentionally drowned his daughter.
Reverend Sean Rodgers, the pastor at St. John the Baptist, issued a statement: “Sunday night there was tragedy in the church; a little girl lost her life. When police finish the investigation we will know more. In the meantime, please pray for the family, and the parish community.”
Although police say they had never been called to Ordaz’s home to investigate abuse, the suspect does have a criminal history that includes burglary, disturbance of peace, and probation violation. Ordaz had been living with Maria’s mother. Their three surviving children are said to be with her now.
On Tuesday, the court arraigned Ordaz on one count of murder and felony assault on a child, as well as one misdemeanor count of cruelty to a child, stemming from his nine-year-old son being present when he allegedly drowned Maria.
Main photo: Gerardo Mendoza Ordaz [Healdsburg Police Department]