Warrant issued for man's arrest in case of 5-year-old girl's body found in closet

Girl's mother, Priscilla Torres arrested, charged in case

HOUSTON – A warrant was issued Friday for the arrest of a man after a 5-year-old girl’s body was found in a closet on Labor Day, KSAT's sister website, Click2Houston.com, reported.

Houston police said in a tweet that 30-year-old Santiago Esparza Jr. is wanted on a charge of tampering with evidence in connection with the death of Sierra Patino.

Esparza is the boyfriend of Sierra’s mother, Priscilla Torres, who has been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in connection with her daughter’s death.

According to court records, Torres initially told police she was giving her daughter a bath and she left the child alone for a few minutes, and when Torres returned, there was an empty bottle of toilet bowl cleaner floating next to the child.

Related: Mother claims daughter died days after drinking toilet bowl cleaner during bath, investigators say

Court documents revealed that after more questioning, Torres changed her story and said her boyfriend had given the child a bath while she made dinner.

At a hearing Thursday, prosecutors revealed they planned to charge Esparza in connection with the case.

"We believe he was in the apartment with Priscilla Torres and that they acted together," prosecutors said. "(They) put the body in the closet and then left the scene for multiple days before Priscilla Torres reported this to police."

Related: 5-year-old girl found dead in closet in northwest Houston

Torres is being held in jail on $50,000 bond. Her attorney said he believes a jury will find her not guilty in the death of her daughter.

Anyone with information about Esparza’s whereabouts is asked to call Houston police at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-8477.

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