Last Sunday my daughter and I watched the entire documentary series “The Trials of Gabriel Hernandez” where we learned about the suffering and then eventual death of eight-year old Gabriel Hernandez by the hands of his mother and her boyfriend. They mention the murder of ten-year old Anthony Avalos, again the mother and her boyfriend were charged.  I can’t recommend this documentary series enough.  However, I also caution that you make sure that you are in a mental state to watch it.  There were times that I cried and yelled in anger at the TV.  My daughter and I spent the entire day talking about what these poor boys had to endure.  What we spent the majority of the time talking about is that they weren’t the first or the last. Children should be loved and protected.  They shouldn’t live their lives being hurt by the people who are supposed to care for them like their parents. In August 2019, five-year old Sierra Patino died. Her mother Priscilla Torres and her mother’s boyfriend Santiago Esparza have been charged for her murder. It doesn’t seem that Child Protective Services was involved like with Gabriel and Anthony.  The similarity is that again it’s a mother and her boyfriend. 

September 2019

On September 1, 2019, Priscilla Torres’ relatives went to visit her at her apartment in Houston, Texas. They hadn’t seen five-year-old Sierra Patino for a few days, so they were concerned.  The stench hit them when they entered the house. When they asked Priscilla what the smell was, she told them that the smell was coming from Sierra’s body that was decaying in the closet.  Sierra’s grandmother was the one to find her body wrapped in a blanket. The police were called. 

The next day on September 3, 2019, Priscilla appeared in court and was charged with tampering with evidence.  When questioned, Priscilla said that she was giving her daughter a bath.  She left the bathroom for a minute. When she returned, an empty bottle of toilet cleaner was floating in the tub. Priscilla assumed Sierra drank it. When did this happen? On August 23, 2019.  She then said that girl was sick for four days, but she was afraid that Child Protective Services would take Sierra away from her, so she didn’t take the girl to the hospital.  Sierra died on August 27, 2019 where her Sierra Patino’s body was hidden in the closet. 

During the time that Sierra had been dead for seven days, her mother Priscilla Torres and her boyfriend Santiago Esparza took a mini-vacation to Galveston Texas. They were gone for three days. 

Priscilla Torres and Santiago Esparza had only been dating for a month when he moved in. Santiago had recently moved in before Sierra’s death. 

On the same day that Priscila was being charged with tampering with evidence surrounding Sierra’s death, her boyfriend Santiago voluntarily turned himself into the police. During his interview, Santiago told investigators that on August 23, 2019, he was with Priscilla and Sierra. Santiago said they were at his brother’s home until 11PM where they wanted to leave Sierra, but his brother said that his wife and he couldn’t watch Sierra.  Sierra never took a bath that day.

Retracting Original Statement

The investigators were awaiting the autopsy of Sierra.  During this time, Priscilla Torres changed her original statement of the events.  If you remember, she said that she gave Sierra the bath, and that is when the little girl drank the toilet cleaner.  Now, she relayed the following story. On August 23, 2019, Santiago, Sierra, and her were in the apartment.  Santiago begged to give Sierra a bath while Priscilla cooked. She was a bit hesitant, but then he said, “If we’re going to live together, you need to let me do this. You need to trust me.”  She allowed him to give her five-year-old daughter a bath. 

When she went to go check on them, the bathroom door was closed and locked.  Priscilla knocked trying to get in and Santiago refused to open it.  Priscilla heard Sierra screaming.  He finally opened the door, and she saw her daughter bruised and burned.  In the next few days, Sierra was sick and barely ate. Eventually, Sierra passed away. Priscilla claims that her boyfriend of one month begged her not to go to the police and that they could run away to Mexico together. 

Instead of calling the police, Priscilla Torres allegedly went along with Santiago’s plan, dressed her daughter in a green romper, wrapped her in a blanket, and left her there for seven days until her family came to visit. 

During Sierra’s vigil, her grandmother Patricia Patino said, “My daughter, she’s not a killer. But she failed as a mother to protect her daughter. She failed. But I blame him. I blame him, and I hope he gets what he gets. I hope he stays in jail I hope he gets hurt in jail.”

Santiago Esparza insists that he never gave Sierra a bath, and that the little girl died when he was at work. When he got home, he found Priscilla frantic cause Sierra had died. 

In November 2019, the autopsy didn’t reveal much to figure out who actually was telling the truth.  The examiner said that the cause of Sierra’s death was “undetermined.” 

Closing Remarks

On January 8, 2020, Priscilla Torres was supposed to go back to court, but I couldn’t find anything so maybe the court date was postpone or they are not releasing it to the public.  I wonder what investigators found. Did they question Santiago Esparza’s brother and wife to see if they were at their house on August 23, 2020 when supposedly the bathing incident happen? Did he give Sierra a bath or was it Priscilla? There is a lot of questions surrounding Sierra Patino’s death. Who actually murdered her? Priscilla or Santiago.  I found that Santiago did have a prior conviction in 2011 for hurting a child.  He also seems to be in gangs. However, that doesn’t mean that he was the one who did it.  I try not to judge parents unless something heinous that they were a part of happens.  Even if she didn’t commit the act, Priscila didn’t protect her daughter. If he gave her a bath, why would she allow him to do it? Wouldn’t she be weary how insistent he was? Both of them are to blame.  When the girl was really sick those days following the bath, neither of them acted. Priscilla was more concerned about herself than her daughter that she didn’t call the police or take her to the hospital.  She then goes on vacation for three days while her daughter’s body lay in the closet. If she did it, Santiago saw the girl’s lifeless body and he helped Priscilla put the girl in the closet and go on vacation. Both of them should be found guilty.  Let me know if you agree or disagree.  If you find more information on this case, please share it with me. I will definitely update everyone when there are more findings.

Priscilla Torres and her boyfriend Santiago Esparza have conflicting stories as to what happened to five-year-old Sierra Patino.