Police: Mother led investigators to child's remains buried in backyard

Larissa Rodriguez

Cleveland Police

Last Updated Dec 21, 2017 6:26 PM EST

CLEVELAND -- A Cleveland mother led investigators to a child's body buried in the backyard of her home Tuesday, and the remains are believed to be her missing, disabled son, according to court documents. The child's body reportedly showed signs of abuse.

Larissa Rodriguez, 34, was charged Thursday with murder. Court records don't indicate whether she has an attorney and she is scheduled to appear in Cleveland Municipal Court on Friday. 

The remains have not been positively identified as Rodriguez's missing 5-year-old son Jordan, according to the documents. The medical examiner will identify the body and determine a cause of death following a Wednesday autopsy.  

Cleveland police have said Jordan died Sept. 22. The arrest affidavit submitted by a Cleveland homicide detective Wednesday said Rodriguez "buried the child inappropriately" and led authorities Tuesday to where his remains could be found. 

jordan.jpg

Larissa Rodriguez's missing 5-year-old son, Jordan

WOIO

The affidavit said that the "corpse exhibited multiple signs of abuse, including broken ribs."

Police were tipped off Monday when they received a 911 call from the brother of Rodriguez's boyfriend, reports CBS affiliate WOIO. The caller, who lives in Pakistan, said the man called him and said he came home to find the child dead several months ago.

"He said, when I came home, the kid was already dead," the caller told a dispatcher, according to a recording of the call obtained by the station.

The brother told 911 the boyfriend cried as he said he helped Rodriguez bury the body.

"He told me that something happened with one of the kids and they didn't call the cops. Basically him and his girlfriend buried the kid in the backyard," the caller said.

Investigators first responded to Rodriguez' Cleveland home Monday, but didn't uncover anything. FBI and medical examiner investigators continued the search Tuesday and dug for about three hours before finding the remains.

History of child welfare investigations

Rodriguez, a mother of nine, has a long history with local child welfare officials. Social workers have opened 13 neglect or abuse investigations on the woman since 1999, a Cuyahoga County spokeswoman told Cleveland.com. The latest was in December 2016, and that case was closed in February, the website reports.

Officials removed four children from the home Monday night, and the children were placed in emergency custody in foster care. Those four range in age from 16 months to 12 years, county spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan said. 

The home was found in "deplorable and unsanitary condition," according to documents filed by the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services and obtained by WOIO.  

The home was dirty, with an infestation of cockroaches and rats, and one child was seen eating a sandwich that contained cockroaches, the document said. 

The documents say the mother was arrested in connection "with the death of a child who is believed to be the sibling of these children."

Madigan said Wednesday that Rodriguez lost custody of her two oldest children many years ago, but Madigan would not reveal why.

"Our focus is on the safety of the children," Madigan said.

In an emotional statement to reporters, Rodriguez's sister Ana Rodriguez claimed the woman abused the boy. Ana Rodriguez said she notified child welfare officials numerous times and that they would respond but then close out the cases.

"That boy was sick, that boy was special needs, premature, he needed help, and all they did was [expletive] beat on that little boy," Ana Rodriguez said.

Larissa Rodriguez told police she has nine children and five live with her. She allegedly said Jordan, who has special needs and is unable to speak, left with his aunt on Dec. 2 to visit his father in Texas.

According to a police report obtained by WOIO, Rodriguez said she did not know the phone number or address for the father or the aunt.

The boyfriend is currently jailed in another Ohio county on drug charges. He has since been transferred to a maximum security cell, according to WOIO. He has not been charged in the case.

Rodriguez couldn't be reached for comment while in custody.