A memorial of candles, notes and stuffed animals grew Wednesday near a Bellflower mortuary where a baby girl from Sacramento was found dead in a car seat, and authorities continued searching for her father, who has been deemed a person of interest in her death.
The child was found, partially covered by a blanket, about 10:35 a.m. Monday behind the mortuary in the 10300 block of Alondra Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. She was identified by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office as 8-month-old Alexia Rose Echeverria.
The baby was the daughter of 22-year-old Alexander Echeverria, who remains unaccounted for, said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Trina Schrader.
“We believe the (baby’s) death occurred in Sacramento County,” Schrader said, adding that all other information about the case would be released by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.
An autopsy on the girl was pending, so there was no official word on how the child died. But the girl’s mother, Karla Alvarado, told reporters in Sacramento that Echeverria had contacted his brother and described how the girl may have died.
“He (Echeverria) told him that he was playing with her, throwing her up (in the air), and he slipped and she fell, and she wasn’t waking up,” Alvarado said in one media interview. “He said he got scared and he drove to the hospital but he never went in because he thought nobody was going to believe him that it was an accident.”
SCSO Sgt. Tess Deterding said Echeverria’s family members reported him missing on Monday.
“At the time, he was believed to be traveling with his 8-month-old daughter …,” Deterding said. “Alexander was last seen in Southern California early Monday morning. The Sacramento Sheriff’s Office is currently working with local and federal agencies to identify the whereabouts of Alexander.”
Earlier, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement indicating that Echeverria was last seen with his 8-month-old daughter about 10:30 p.m. Friday driving in Bellflower in a gray 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, California license number 7FFT866.
He is still believed to be driving that vehicle, Deterding said.
“Alexander is considered a person of interest in the death of Alexia,” Deterding said. “He is considered at-risk due to suicidal statements made to family members recently.”
Officials circulated a photo of Echeverria, described as Hispanic, 5 feet 6 inches tall and about 160 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Alvarado, the girl’s mother, told reporters in various interviews in Sacramento that she last saw her daughter in a FaceTime video chat with Echeverria Sunday morning. She said he then telephoned her around 4 p.m. Sunday, “crying hysterically.”
“He couldn’t even talk, and I was super scared,” Alvarado said. “I was like, `What’s going on? Did something happen to Alexia? Did you get into a car accident? What happened?’ Cause there was a lot of noise in the background and he couldn’t tell me. He just kept crying and crying and crying, and I was like, `What happened?”’
She said Echeverria should have gone to authorities and “faced the consequences.”
“If he had to go to jail, then deal with it, you know, deal with it,” she said. “But my baby didn’t have to go through all that.”
Anyone with information on Echeverria’s whereabouts was urged to call the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office at 916-874-5115, or the Sacramento Valley Crime Stoppers at 916-443-HELP. Also, people may leave tips anonymously at www.sacsheriff.com, or by calling 916-874-TIPS.
Tipsters may be eligible for a reward by providing information leading to the arrest of Echeverria through Sacramento Valley Crime Stoppers, Deterding said.