Judge seals arrest warrant for Stamford mom whose son was buried in park

Iris Rivera-Santos, 29, was arrested Friday on charges of risk of injury to a minor, hindering prosecution, tampering with evidence and cruelty to persons in connection to her 2-year-old's death.

Marissa Alter

Feb 6, 2023, 11:58 PM

Updated 494 days ago

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A Stamford mom whose toddler son was found buried in a local park was arraigned Monday, but there's still little known about the case against her. Iris Rivera-Santos, 29, was arrested Friday on charges of risk of injury to a minor, hindering prosecution, tampering with evidence, and cruelty to persons in connection to her two-year-old's death. A judge has sealed her arrest warrant until Feb. 16.
In a motion requesting the seal, State's Attorney Paul Ferencek wrote, "The Stamford Police Department is actively investigating to determine who is responsible for the child's death. As such, Rivera-Santos' arrest is part of a continuing investigating which could be adversely affected by disclosure of the arrest warrant affidavit at this time."
On Jan. 2, police found Liam Rivera buried in a plastic bag at Cummings Park and named the boy's father as the suspect in his death. An autopsy determined Liam died from multiple blunt force injuries to his head. Following a brief manhunt, police arrested Edgar Ismalej-Gomez, 26, on an outstanding warrant for violation of probation. He was taken into custody in the back of a cab allegedly headed to New York.
Ismalej-Gomez was previously convicted of breaking Liam's arm in 2021. Last year, he pleaded guilty to risk of injury and third-degree assault and received a five-year sentence that was suspended after 60 days in jail, followed by three years of probation. His release included several conditions including that he obey a standing criminal protective order barring him from any contact with his son. But it appears he'd been living with Liam and Rivera-Santos in the weeks before Liam's death.
Last month, at Ismalej-Gomez's arraignment, Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Manning told the court Liam was found dead after his father was in his room. She also said Ismalej-Gomez wouldn't let Rivera-Santos call an ambulance, then he buried their child, and held her captive at gunpoint for multiple days. When Rivera-Santos was able to leave, she bought a phone and called her attorney who got police involved, according to Manning.
Ismalej-Gomez remains in custody on $3 million. Police have not charged him or anyone with Liam's death, but they appear to believe Rivera-Santos bears some responsibility for what happened.
In court Monday, Ferencek told the judge, "This is a very lengthy warrant. I believe it's 63 paragraphs. It was carefully reviewed by Judge Blawie last week. The four underlying charges, although they're D felonies, pertain to the abuse and death of her two-year-old-child." Ferencek also said Rivera-Santos is not legally in the country and asked the judge to set bond at $1 million.
Her attorney argued for a bond of $75,000, countering, "With respect to this incident, Ms. Rivera-Santos was the catalyst that opened the door to this investigation. She provided statements to police."
The judge set bond at $1 million. He said Rivera-Santos is not expected to post that, but if she does, she'll have to wear a GPS ankle monitor.
Rivera-Santos is due back in court on March 23 in this case, along with a pending charge. She was arrested in March 2022 for allegedly falsely reporting an incident in January. Police said she told them Ismalej-Gomez's brother kidnapped Liam. According to the arrest warrant, police quickly located the child with Ismalej-Gomez. "Iris told officers that she believes that Edgar sent his brother German to take the juvenile because there was a protective order between Edgar and the juvenile and he was not allowed within 100 yards of him," the warrant said.
A week later, Rivera-Santos changed her story. In a statement to police, she said on the night in question Ismalej-Gomez had come over to give her money and then walked away with the boy to see family. She said she didn't know where they went, and Ismalej-Gomez didn't answer her phone call, so she contacted police. Rivera-Santos said she lied about who had the child for fear of being reported to DCF since Ismalej-Gomez wasn't supposed to be around him. She also said she didn't want to get Ismalej-Gomez into trouble because "he's a responsible father who's always helping me." According to her statement, Ismalej-Gomez returned her call 15-20 minutes later saying he was on his way back with Liam, but Rivera-Santos had already called police. "I got nervous thinking they kidnapped him, but that wasn't the case."


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