Published On: Sat, Sep 7th, 2019

Santiago Esparza charged in 5-year-old Sierra Patino’s death, girl found dead in a closet

Both Priscilla Torres and her boyfriend, Santiago Esparza Jr., have been charged with tampering with human remains after 5-year-old Sierra Patino was found dead in a closet.

Houston police confirmed details Friday surrounding the Esparza’s arrest, a man prosecutors are calling a “known gang member” with a long rap sheet dating back to 2006.

Santiago Esparza

Torres, 27, the victim’s mother, initially said she was the one who gave Sierra a bath. She said she left her daughter alone for a few minutes and when she came back, there was an empty bottle of toilet cleaner floating in the tub.

Later she confessed that she and Esparza agreed to put Sierra to bed that evening without calling 911 because she was afraid CPS would take the girl away. She believed her daughter’s apparent chemical burns would heal without treatment.

The mother has also stated to police that Esparza gave the child the bathroom, with the door closed, and when she returned she opened the door and saw the chemical burns all over Sierra’s skin as well as bruises on her forehead.

It was revealed that the pair moved into Esparza’s 7800 block of Grow Lane apartment on August 23 and Sierra died the afternoon of August 27.

Sierra’s body was wrapped in a blanket and put her in a bedroom closet without calling police.

Six days after Sierra’s death, Torres and her mother, called 911 from the apartment where Sierra’s body was.

First responders arrived to a smell coming from the apartment unit. They then found Sierra’s body wrapped in blankets at the bottom of a closet.

“It’s very troubling, no matter how the child died, whether it’s accidental or intentional death…for a body to be in the closet for several days, that’s unthinkable,” said Lt. Larry Crowson with Houston Police Department.

CPS said they had no history with Torres or her daughter.

Investigators are still waiting for autopsy results before filing more charges.

Anyone with additional information in this case is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).


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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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