Dad Held After Baby Dies in Backyard Fire Pit

Wash. state father told cops his son wandered into fire after he fell asleep.

ByABC News
June 24, 2008, 3:57 PM

June 25, 2008— -- Alberto Rios likely had no intention of killing his 7-month-old son, but that may not clear him of responsibility in the child's grisly death.

The Washington state father of a baby who died over the weekend after wandering into a backyard fire pit as he slept nearby was arrested Tuesday and is being held on investigation of first-degree manslaughter.

Rios was booked into the King County Jail and held without bail at 6 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of first-degree manslaughter, according to the jail's Web site.

Although police have refused to identify Rios by name because he is only being held in connection with the case, Cathy Schrock, a police spokeswoman in Federal Way, Wash., confirmed that the department arrested Rios late Tuesday. King County prosecutors will ultimately decide whether to bring charges against him.

Police confirmed the 4:45 p.m. arrest of a 37-year-old Hispanic suspect who told police that he fell asleep late Saturday night by a backyard fire with his baby son and later found the child severely burned in the fire pit.

King County authorities responded to a call about an injured child shortly after midnight Sunday morning. When they arrived, the father, identified by a jail record as Alberto Rios, was holding his 7-month-old son. The child, already dead, had suffered severe burns to his entire body, Schrock told ABC News Tuesday afternoon shortly before Rios' arrest.

"The preliminary investigation disclosed that the boy fell into a backyard fire pit," Schrock said.

The father told investigators that he had fallen asleep with the infant on a bench next to a fire pit. When he woke up and realized his son was gone, he went inside to look for him. The father then went back outside and found the boy's charred body in the pit, Schrock said.

The investigation into the death is ongoing. In addition to Rios and the baby's mother identified only as a 39-year-old Hispanic woman authorities had been interviewing neighbors to create a timeline for the 24 hours before they responded They also executed a search warrant and drew blood to determine whether Rios was drunk or on drugs when the death occurred. The results of the tests are not yet available. The King County medical examiner, who was expected to release the child's official cause of death late Tuesday, has not yet made a determination.