Crime & Courts

Wichita mother, boyfriend arrested after toddler found bruised and dead Sunday

A Wichita mother and her boyfriend are in jail after authorities found her 2-year-old son bruised and dead Sunday morning.

Stephanie Aviles, 24, is being held in the Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of aggravated child endangerment and Bernardo Gonzalez-Mejia, 31, was arrested on suspicion of child abuse. Aviles’ bond is set at $200,000. Gonzalez-Mejia’s was listed as $250,000 on Monday afternoon.

As of Monday morning, police had classified the case as a child death investigation. Authorities hope to learn exactly what killed the boy during an autopsy.

Capt. Brent Allred said Aviles left the toddler with her boyfriend Sunday morning while she ran errands with at least one other young child. At some point she called 911 to make a report about her son’s condition after Gonzalez-Mejia “contacted her about the child not breathing” while she was gone, Allred said. It’s unclear how much time passed before Aviles called 911.

Police responded to Gonzalez-Mejia’s home, where Aviles and the children also live, around 11 a.m. and found the child lifeless. First responders tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at the home, in the 1100 block of west Munnell, near Kellogg and Seneca.

Allred said bruising on the boy’s body prompted his mother’s and her boyfriend’s arrests. He described the injuries as extensive.

“I would probably pretty (much) say the entire body,” Allred said of the bruising.

“The cause of death will be determined pending an autopsy by the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, and that will determine if there will be any additional charges associated with this incident,” Allred said. The boy was alone with Gonzalez-Mejia at the time he was became unresponsive.

Aviles’ two other young children, a 6-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl, also live at the home with the couple. They were taken into police protective custody after the boy died “until we determine the best placement for those kids,” Allred said. It’s immediately unclear whether they showed any signs of having been abused or neglected.

Allred said the Kansas Department for Children and Families received at least one report involving the family from 2015 but it didn’t involve any abuse. Police also had one report involving the family but it didn’t involve abuse either, he said.

The toddler is the third found dead under suspicious circumstances in Wichita this year.

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.
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