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CT father charged after 2-year-old found dead in shallow grave

The father of a 2-year-old Connecticut boy found buried in a shallow grave has been charged in connection with the toddler's death, police said Wednesday.

Edgar Ismalej-Gomez, 28, was charged with cruelty to persons, two counts of tampering with evidence, risk of injury to a minor, hindering prosecution and conspiracy to tamper with evidence, the Stamford Police Department said.

Ismalej-Gomez was not charged with murder. While police were investigating the case, he was already in prison for a probation violation.

The two-year-old boy, Liam Rivera, was found dead in a plastic bag with his head buried in a shallow grave in Cummings Park in Stamford on January 2, 2023.

Ismalej-Gomez was arrested on January 3 and held for a probation violation.

Officers found the boy after the child's mother, Iris Rivera-Santos, called police. Rivera-Santos told authorities that Ismalej-Gomez held her at gunpoint for four days while they drove back and forth to West Virginia.

However, investigators began to doubt Rivera-Santos' story. In February 2023, she was arrested and charged with cruelty to persons, tampering with evidence, risk of injury to a minor and hindering prosecution. Neither parent was charged with murder.

At the time of Rivera's death, his parents had filed a case against her with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, and authorities issued a protective order to prevent Ismalej-Gomez from seeing his son, according to local ABC affiliate WTNH.

Connecticut DCF was contacted after Ismalej-Gomez and Rivera-Santos took their son to a hospital, claiming he was injured when he fell out of bed, according to the Hartford Courant. Hospital officials determined that the injury, diagnosed as a spinal fracture, was not the result of a fall.

Ismalej-Gomez was also charged with assault, cruelty and risk of injury in August 2021 for breaking the child's arm, the Stamford Advocate reported. He pleaded guilty and served just 60 days of a five-year prison sentence.

Anna Harden

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