Miami man denies trying to murder adopted son found burned
By Michael Winter
A Miami exterminator pleaded not guilty today to charges of attempted murder and child abuse for allegedly pouring a toxic substance on his adopted son, who is in critical condition with severe burns over his body.
Jorge Barahona, 53, appeared disheveled in court today after missing an appearance Thursday because he tried to hurt himself, police said. He is being held without bail.
Records show Barahona and his wife, Carmen, have been investigated four times for child abuse in the past few years. She is also expected to face charges.
Besides adopting 10-year-old Victor Doctor and his twin sister, Nubia, the Barahonas have custody of two other foster children who have mental disabilities.
According to a police affidavit cited by ABC News, he told investigators he had poured gasoline over Victor as the boy slept in his lap inside Barahona's pest control truck, which was found Monday morning parked along I-95 in West Palm Beach. The Florida Highway Patrol said the boy was convulsing and gasping for air. Barahona was found nearby on the ground, unresponsive.
In the back of the covered pickup, troopers found the partially decomposed body of Nubia. Autopsy results won't be released for several days.
Barahona said he also poured gasoline over his daughter and has admitted starving the girl, Florida officials said, the Associated Press reports.
A family member called the child abuse hotline four days before the twins were found to report that the Barahonas were tying up the children and putting them in the bathtub as punishment.
In court Thursday, the judge excoriated child-welfare officials for not aggressively investigating the reported abuse.