Police charged an Odessa couple with capital murder in connection with the death of 3-year-old Omar Frias Jr, earlier this month.
The boy’s mother, 20-year-old Jasmine Gabriella Olivas, and Segundo M. Ramirez, 23, were arrested at 2 p.m. Wednesday, according to a statement from the Odessa Police Department. OPD identified Ramirez as Frias’ stepfather. But Child Protective Services, who investigated a report of abuse last year, indicated Olivas lived with a boyfriend at an apartment, and a public records search revealed no marriage license for the couple.
The couple was being held Wednesday in the Ector County Detention Center. Their bond had not been set.
Frias’ parents took him to Medical Center Hospital on Jan. 10, and he was transported to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, where he died on Jan. 11. The autopsy report states Omar suffered blunt force trauma to this abdomen, and his death was ruled a homicide by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner.
The reported assault happened at 1401 Harless Ave., Apt. 1627, where Frias, Ramirez and Olivas all lived, according to jail records and a police incident report released after the investigation began.
Police released no further details on Wednesday.
But a co-worker of Olivas at Mi Casa in Odessa described the boy as a sweet-hearted young friend to her own 3-year-old son.
“He was playful — always happy,” said the co-worker, 21-year-old Teresa Rodriguez. “He loved trucks. He liked John Deere a lot, and he was always in cowboy boots. And he liked the movie ‘Cars’.”
Rodriguez described Ramirez as controlling, refusing to allow Olivas to spend time with her. Especially in the last six months, Rodriguez said, when they’d have to hang out while Ramirez was at work. The couple wasn’t married, Rodriguez said.
After Frias’ death, CPS removed his 4-month-old brother from their home and placed him in foster care, said Marleigh Meisner, a spokesperson for the agency, in a previous interview with the Odessa American. CPS said it could not release with whom the children lived or where. But Meisner said about two weeks before Frias died, his mother moved with the children into an apartment with her boyfriend. The boyfriend is the “alleged father” of Frias’ little brother, CPS reported.
CPS officials opened a case in March 2012 after a referral of child abuse, Meisner said. CPS ruled it was “unable to determine” abuse by Frias’ parents but found “reason to believe” there was abuse by “an unknown perpetrator.” The agency’s investigators observed injuries Frias had suffered, but Meisner said she could not specify what those injuries were.
Rodriguez said Ramirez had broken the boy’s arm.
After the reported abuse last year, Frias’ mother moved in with her children to their grandparents’ home and received undisclosed services from CPS, Meisner said.
Police reported Frias’ parents took him to the hospital on Jan. 10 because he was unresponsive. But police did not specify whether the parents were Olivas and her boyfriend or Frias’ biological father Omar Frias and his wife Yolanda Mendoza. Omar Frias and Mendoza could not be reached by press time Wednesday.
As the CPS does anytime a child dies as a result of suspected abuse, the agency has been conducting a child death investigation and sharing information with law enforcement, Meisner said.
According to the funeral home, Omar Frias Jr. was buried Jan. 15 after his funeral.