The Northern California father of an infant found dead behind a mortuary in Southern California surrendered at the U.S.-Mexico border after a week of a statewide manhunt, authorities said Monday.
Alexander Echeverria, 22, was taken into custody at the border in San Diego County, the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department said.
Eight-month-old Alexia Rose Echeverria was discovered dead in a car seat, partially covered by a blanket behind a mortuary in the 10300 block of Alondra Boulevard in Bellflower, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The girl’s mother, Karla Alvarado, previouslly told reporters in Sacramento, where the baby is believed to have died, that Echeverria had contacted his brother.
“He (Echeverria) told him that he was playing with her, throwing her up (in the air), and he slipped and she fell, and she wasn’t waking up,” Alvarado said in one media interview. “He said he got scared and he drove to the hospital, but he never went in because he thought nobody was going to believe him that it was an accident.”
Echeverria’s family members reported him missing last Monday, and he was last seen in Southern California early that Memorial Day morning, according to Sgt. Tess Deterding of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.
“At the time, he was believed to be traveling with his 8-month-old daughter …,” she said, adding that he was considered at risk “due to suicidal statements made to family members.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported last week that Echeverria was last seen with his daughter about 10:30 p.m. May 24 driving in Bellflower in a gray 2014 Volkswagen Jetta.
The baby’s mother told reporters in various interviews in Sacramento that she last saw her daughter in a FaceTime video chat with Echeverria on the morning of May 26. She said he then telephoned her around 4 p.m. that day, “crying hysterically.”
“He couldn’t even talk, and I was super scared,” Alvarado said. “I was like, `What’s going on? Did something happen to Alexia? Did you get into a car accident? What happened?’ Cause there was a lot of noise in the background and he couldn’t tell me. He just kept crying and crying and crying, and I was like, `What happened?”‘
She said Echeverria should have gone to authorities and “faced the consequences.”
“If he had to go to jail, then deal with it, you know, deal with it,” she said. “But my baby didn’t have to go through all that.”