SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – The baby sitter of an infant girl was charged with murder 25 years after the child died in his care and was found with bruises, bite marks and signs of longstanding abuse, authorities said.
Louis Duran, 53, was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder and was being held on a $1 million bond.
The arrest came after Salt Lake City police Det. Thomas Flores tracked down witnesses, medical examiner files and photographs, and determined the case had been closed inappropriately.
“This is really just the result of good, old-fashioned, hard police work,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said.
No further details about what led to the arrest were released. Gill said his office doesn’t name minors in such cases and explained that police took up the investigation in recent months as they sifted through a number of cold cases.
Neither the Utah courts system nor the public defender’s office in Salt Lake City listed an attorney for Duran.
Dawn Nieto, the child’s mother, had moved in with the Duran and his sister after breaking up with the infant’s father, she told police, according to arrest documents. Duran routinely looked after children because he didn’t have a job, she said.
Medical officials who reviewed the autopsy report told Flores the girl was a victim of ongoing abuse and had multiple skull fractures, bruises, brain swelling and bite marks on her face and forearm.
Duran had told authorities the girl was fussy and often sick but had been playing with children and toys before she died.
An autopsy showed the girl had ear and urinary tract infections at the time of her death, said Edward Leis, chief assistant Utah medical examiner, who didn’t conduct the original autopsy but consulted the reports at recent requests from police.
Police say Duran’s mother and his sister left the home to run errands one afternoon in October of 1988, when the girl was breathing normally and playing with other children.
Nieto told police she gave the child a bath that morning and noticed bruises on her ear and cheeks, arrest documents show. Nieto reportedly noted the girl was acting strange. When she checked on the infant again that evening, she found her seemingly lifeless on a bed with vomit nearby, according to the arrest documents.
Emergency crews pronounced the infant dead at the home.
Police say the mother said she had known that the caretaker had sucked on the infant’s cheeks, leaving marks.
The baby sitter later told the girl’s mother he was sorry, the documents show, and told officers he had left the bite marks on the child’s forearms and face but couldn’t say what happened that day.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.