Los Banos Child Abuse Investigation

March 18, 2009 11:29:50 PM PDT
A Los Banos mother was arraigned Wednesday morning and she's now facing felony charges for child endangerment.Her 2-year-old son is being treated at Children's Hospital Central California, where he's just now emerging from a coma after a punishment police say went way overboard. The boy is one of four children in the family, but investigators say his mom treated him differently because she thinks he's mentally challenged.

An emergency trip to Memorial Hospital in Los Banos led 23-year-old Nieves Ruiz right to jail. Police say she punished her 2-year-old son so severely, he not only suffered a broken arm and several cuts, but his body got so cold, it shut down from hypothermia.

"The mother left him in a bathroom with the door closed, with the bathroom window open and he was not sufficiently clothed," said Sgt. Chet Stygar, of the Los Banos Police Department.

After hours in the bathroom, the boy's condition was so bad, doctors at Memorial couldn't treat him. He was airlifted to Children's Hospital, where they induced a coma. While he was being treated, police served a search warrant at Ruiz's house and arrested her.

Neighbors didn't want their names used for this story, but many of them say they question the way she treated all four of her kids, who range in age from one to five. "It sounded like it was one of the little girls that was crying a lot," one of them told Action News. "But maybe it was him. I don't know. There was someone that cried a lot."

Police say she reserved the worst treatment for the 2-year-old, because she thought he was different from the others.

"We believe she disciplined this child more severely than the others because she felt he was 'a little slow'," said Sgt. Stygar.

Ruiz was arraigned on child endangerment charges, but police say she could face more charges and they are still looking into whether other family members were involved.

Police say they checked for signs of trauma on the other three kids and didn't find anything. Even so, they're all in Child Protective Services custody while police finish their investigation.

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