Doctor Says Fla. Boy's Acid Burns Worsening

Date: 2011-02-16

MIAMI (AP) — A doctor is having trouble treating a 10-year-old boy who was found doused in acid in a toxic pickup truck with his dead twin sister.

Dr. Walter Lambert said at a court hearing Wednesday he is having difficulty treating the boy because he doesn't know what kind of chemical agent was used. The doctor says the burns are progressing and he is considering moving the boy to a burn unit.

The boy, his sister and their father were found on the side of Interstate 95 on Monday.

Authorities say the father, Jorge Barahona, has admitted to putting his dead daughter in the truck and was so distraught he was driving someplace to kill himself.

Barahona has been accused of aggravated child abuse, but authorities expect more charges.


Associated Press writer Jennifer Kay contributed to this report in Miami and Matt Sedensky in West Palm Beach.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

MIAMI (AP) — A 10-year-old girl whose badly deteriorated body was discovered in her father's pesticide truck is the twin of a boy discovered hours earlier in the vehicle, critically injured after being doused in acid by his father, an official said Wednesday.

The pickup truck was found Monday along the side of Interstate 95. But because of the toxic fumes, the girl's body wasn't located until hours later, wrapped in plastic bags, wedged between chemical containers in the pickup truck's bed, according to the official familiar with the children's case. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly.

The children's father, Jorge Barahona, was near the truck with severe burns. He has been accused of aggravated child abuse, but authorities expect more charges, West Palm Beach city spokesman Chase Scott said. Barahona, 53, is currently in intensive care at a hospital.

The father has confessed to police that he placed his dead daughter in the bag and drove to Palm Beach County with plans to kill himself, according to a police report obtained by The Palm Beach Post.

As he drove with his son, Victor, he poured gasoline on himself, the report said.

"Jorge intended to ignite a lighter to set himself on fire, but he could not do it" because the boy was in the truck with him, the report said.

When police asked the father why he didn't have similar burns to those found on his son, he said some of the gasoline must have splattered on his son.

"Jorge's account of events is inconsistent," the report said.

When the truck was found by emergency assistance vehicle, the boy was writhing from seizures, Chase said.

Fumes from the boy were so toxic, workers were overcome just by being close to him when they were wheeling him into the hospital. Four firefighters working the scene were also treated for chemical exposure.

Meanwhile, child welfare officials were piecing together a portrait of Barahona and his wife, Carmen. The couple had adopted four children with special needs from foster care. The Department of Children and Families was already investigating an anonymous allegation that came into their hotline Feb. 10, saying the children's feet and hands were bound with duct tape and only removed so they could eat.

"We are in the preliminary stages of a very tragic, complex case and DCF will be working with all our community partners," DCF spokesman Mark Riordan said.

DCF investigated three allegations of child abuse or neglect in the past several years, but Riordan said they were closed with some or no indicators of abuse or neglect.

In one case, a teacher said the children were coming to school dirty. The girl, whose name has not been released, was taken out of school by her family last year after severe teasing from classmates and being home-school, according to the official.

A sheriff's cruiser was parked outside of Barahona's modest orange one story house Wednesday. The yard has tropical landscape, including palm trees and a wrought-iron fence. The front of house was cordoned off with crime scene tape.

Neighbors said they didn't even realize that children stayed at the home.

"I never saw these kids outside. No one knows anything about this family," said neighbor Gerardo Rodriguez, 72.

DCF has placed the Barahona's two other children with relatives. A hearing was scheduled Wednesday to determine whether to put the children back in foster care.

Records showed Barahona and his wife ran CJ's Pest Exterminator Inc. out of their home, but the business was listed as "inactive" for not registering in 2010.

A message left for Barahona's ex-wife, Marcella Barahona, was not immediately returned.


Associated Press writer Jennifer Kay contributed to this report in Miami and Matt Sedensky in West Palm Beach.


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