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Mother Arrested Month After Toddler Son Found Slain and Buried in Plastic Bag at Connecticut Park

Police arrested Iris Rivera-Santos a month after saying they discovered her 2-year-old son Liam Rivera dead and buried in a plastic bag at a park. (Mugshot: Stamford Police Department)

Police arrested Iris Rivera-Santos a month after saying they discovered her 2-year-old son Liam Rivera dead and buried in a plastic bag at a park. (Mugshot: Stamford Police Department)

A Connecticut mother was arrested on related charges a month after police named the boy’s father as the suspect in their son’s death. Iris Rivera-Santos, 29, is charged with risk of injury to a minor, hindering prosecution, tampering with evidence, and cruelty to persons, the Stamford Police Department announced on Friday.

Officers previously said they found Liam Rivera, 2, buried at Cummings Park in a plastic bag on Jan. 2. They named his father Edgar Ismalej-Gomez, 26, as the suspect, but they still did not announce homicide charges. Now they claim the mother shares some degree of legal responsibility for what happened to young Rivera, though they previously said the boy’s father held her at gunpoint for days.

“These charges are the result of an extensive investigation that was conducted over the previous weeks in conjunction with the Stamford State’s Attorney’s Office,” police wrote. “Rivera-Santos is currently in the custody of the Stamford Police Department and is held on a 1 million dollar bond.”

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As police originally reported, they got a call about a possible kidnapping and a child possibly harmed.

“Further information we received led us to Cummings Park,” police said last month. “Officers responded and the preliminary information was that the two year old may have been buried in an area of Cummings Park.”

Officers said they found Liam buried there inside a plastic bag.

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Police named Ismalej-Gomez as the suspect and said they took him into custody. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the child died by “multiple blunt force traumas to the head.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time,” Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons said at the time. “I have full faith in the Stamford Police Department that the facts will be uncovered as this investigation continues. My office will do everything we can to support and provide resources to our police officers involved in this incident, as well as postvention services to the family involved in this untimely death situation. I am committed to working in partnership with Chief Shaw and his team to ensure justice is served in this investigation.”

Online records show Ismalej-Gomez remains held on a $3 million bond for allegedly violating probation for risk of injury to a child and assault in the third degree. His probation violation stems from a 2021 case in which he broke Liam’s arm, according to The Stamford Advocate. As part of a plea agreement, he got out of prison in May 2022 after 60 days although he was sentenced to be behind bars for five years. Authorities said he stopped attending probation meetings in June, did not contact his probation officer for months, stopped going to court-ordered parenting classes, and yet ended up living with Rivera and Rivera-Santos again.

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Ismalej-Gomez found Rivera dead in the child’s room, and both parents buried him at Cummings Park, Supervisory State’s Attorney Michelle Manning reportedly said in the father’s arraignment last month. He held the mother at gunpoint for several days and made her go with him back and forth from West Virginia, police said. She finally escaped, bought a phone, and called her attorney, according to authorities. That lawyer in turn contacted officers.

“She was under duress and threat,” Assistant Police Chief Richard Conklin said at the time. “We’re trying to shed some clarity on what happened. The first time we spoke to her, she hadn’t eaten properly and hadn’t slept from the trauma.”

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