Toddler's injuries lead to arrest
Following an investigation into a toddler's life-threatening injuries, a Madras man, Josue Jaire Mendoza-Melo, 21, has been arrested and charged with attempted murder and assault.
Mendoza-Melo, who had lived with the 24-year-old mother of the 2-year-old boy for about four months, was arrested Nov. 20, and charged with attempted aggravated murder, and first- and second-degree assault.
According to the arrest affidavit, Mendoza-Melo was watching the child the morning of Nov. 9, while the child's mother was working at a local business. Mendoza-Melo said that he "heard a thump sound" when the child had slipped on a baby gate that was lying on the floor and he set the boy down near his bed and went to get ice, and returned to find the boy had fallen over and was not conscious.
Mendoza-Melo called the boy's mother and told her what had happened and then carried the boy to his vehicle, where he put him in a car seat and drove to the local business to pick up the boy's mother. He then took them both to St. Charles Madras around 10:45 a.m.
The child was reported to have a large bruise on his forehead, bruising underneath his jaw, a scrape on his chin and a cut on the inside of his bottom lip. After examination, medical providers found that the child had a subdural bleed — bleeding in his brain. The child and his mother were flown by air ambulance to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland around 1 p.m.
Law enforcement officials served a search warrant at the mother's residence on Southwest Colfax Lane and walked through the house with Mendoza-Melo, who gave a different version of the incident that had resulted in the child's injury. He said that the child's mother had asked him to pick her up and he had pushed the boy in the back and the boy fell and hit his head, and then got up and ran toward his bedroom and fell as he tried to go over the baby gate.
Mendoza-Melo also said the child had hit his head on the door frame, and that he had played roughly with the child, and had shaken the boy back and forth and hit the back of boy's head on the floor. When the child had trouble walking, the man said he used his cell phone to look up concussions and head injuries on the internet.
A case worker reported contacting a nurse and family friend of the child's mother. The nurse said that the mother had sent her photos of the child that showed bruising around his genital area, which the nurse determined were in various stages of healing. The nurse, who lives in Corvallis, told the mother to immediately seek medical treatment. The date of the mother's contact with the nurse was not reported.
At OHSU, doctors performed surgery to remove a section of the child's skull to allow room for swelling of the brain.
Security for Mendoza-Melo was set at $1 million. His next hearing, a pretrial conference is set for Dec. 14.