A 3-year-old boy is clinging to life after his aunt allegedly shoved him off a Chicago pier and ruthlessly watched as he struggled in the waters below, officials said.
Victoria Moreno, 34, allegedly stole the family’s truck and snuck out of a Des Plaines home Monday with the toddler in tow, the Chicago-Sun Times reported.
She took her nephew to Lake Michigan and let him crawl along the ledge of the Navy Pier.
Moreno pulled him from the ledge because others were nearby, but after realizing no one was watching, she allegedly pushed him over with both hands and stood by as he struggled to stay afloat, prosecutors said in court Thursday.
“Not once during any of these events did the defendant scream for help, call for help, ask for help or try herself to help,” Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said during Moreno’s bond hearing.
“When the police arrived, the defendant pretended not to know anything about the child.”
The Chicago Police Department pulled the boy from Lake Michigan in “very critical condition” 30 minutes after he fell in. He went into cardiac arrest and is awaiting a heart transplant, but Scaduto said he is not expected to survive.
The child’s grandfather, Dan Brown, told WLS-TV the family is asking for prayers.
“Everybody’s prayer helps,” Brown said. “God makes things happen. That’s what we are banking on right now.”
Moreno was caught by surveillance footage committing the devilish act, and reportedly told authorities she let him fall in the water.
The aunt, who has a history of mental illness, had taken the boy and two of her nieces to the pier one week earlier, Block Club Chicago reported. The oldest child, 11, was frightened enough at Moreno’s behavior that she contacted other family members so they could pick up the kids.
Patrick Shine, Moreno’s public defender, said she suffers from “severe mental health” issues, including anxiety, depression and insomnia. He suggested she suffered from a psychotic break and did not plan to hurt her nephew, asking the judge to release her on bail so she could seek professional help while awaiting trial.
Judge Susanna Ortiz, however, denied Shine’s pleas, stating Moreno is “a danger to the community — and to her specific family members and children in general.”
“The way I can describe this act is that it was intentionally brutal and heinous, and it was an act indicative of wanton cruelty to push a child into the lake and let them suffer and struggle and provide no assistance whatsoever,” Ortiz said.
“The inability to control one’s thoughts and impulses makes them as equal a danger to the community as someone who may be acting with the sheer intent of committing bad acts.”
The suspect was charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery to a child under the age of 13 causing permanent disability, police said Wednesday.
Moreno’s next court date is Sept. 30.