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Aunt accused of pushing toddler into Lake Michigan at Navy Pier now faces murder charges

Woman now facing first-degree murder charges in nephew's drowning
Woman now facing first-degree murder charges in nephew's drowning 00:20

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A woman now faces first-degree murder charges in the death of her 3-year-old nephew, after prosecutors say she pushed him into Lake Michigan off Navy Pier last month.

Victoria Moreno, of Des Plaines, originally was charged with attempted murder, after prosecutors said she was seen on surveillance video pushing 3-year-old Josiah Brown into the lake on Sept. 19, and then standing by and doing nothing as he sank to the lake bottom off Chicago's Navy Pier, where divers found him a half-hour later.

Brown died six days later at Lurie Children's Hospital, and on Tuesday, the Cook County State's Attorney's office confirmed Moreno is now charged with first-degree murder. 

Moreno already is being held without bond, and at her first hearing on the upgraded charges Tuesday afternoon, was once again denied bail.

The 3-year-old boy who was pushed into Lake Michigan on Monday was still hospitalized as of Wednesday with several serious injuries. Cook County prosecutors said in court he is not expected to survive. Facebook

Prosecutors have said, on Sept. 19, Josiah was at the family's Des Plaines home where he lives with his grandmother and another aunt. Moreno allegedly stole keys to the family's truck and took Josiah without telling the other family members.

Another family member became alarmed when she noticed Moreno and the child were gone. Moreno was not allowed to drive because of medication she's on for mental health issues.

The family was especially worried because, the week before, Moreno had taken three children living at the family home to Navy Pier also without permission. The oldest child, an 11-year-old, called other family members for help and told them their location. 

During the chain of events Monday, prosecutors said Moreno drove into Chicago and attempted to enter the Shedd Aquarium with Josiah, but could not because she only had cash.

Shortly after noon, she parked at Navy Pier and entered a McDonald's to order food, getting a Happy Meal for Josiah. 

Moreno eventually took the boy to the pier, where chains are located on posts to keep people away from the water.

The boy crawled under the chains and got to the edge of the platform. When no one was present, Moreno let the boy crawl towards the edge of the pier. She climbed over the chains, straddled him, and then pushed him into the lake, prosecutors alleged.

Funeral services to be held for toddler pushed off Navy Pier; aunt facing murder charges 00:15

Moreno sat and stared into the water as the child was drowning, prosecutors alleged. All the events were caught on surveillance cameras.

Two people heard the child hit the water and saw Moreno crouching by the platform. They asked what happened to the boy and she said nothing, but later claimed she did not know the boy.

The two witnesses called police and got a life ring. But several minutes after the boy was pushed, he sunk under the water.

One witness, Ashton King, was at the pier and saw the boy in the water.

"The red flags were there," King said. "She was acting very weird. I did end up telling the officer, I said, 'Listen ... she was the only one here when we got here. She's just been acting off, weird. I just don't know if she's off. Something is not right.'"

Moreno did not ask for help and pretended to not know the child when questioned by police, prosecutors said.

The boy was retrieved by Chicago Fire Department personnel at the bottom of the lake about 30 minutes after he fell in. The boy went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to Lurie Children's Hospital in "very critical condition," officials said. 

Funeral services for the toddler are being held Wednesday. 

The family created a GoFundMe originally for the boy's medical expenses. It has raised more than $21,000 so far.

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