Cause of death is sought for remains found buried in yard

AP News
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Posted: Dec 20, 2017 1:59 PM

A medical examiner on Wednesday was working to determine whether the apparent remains of a young child found buried in the backyard of a Cleveland home were those of a missing 5-year-old boy.

The boy's mother originally told police he was in Houston with his father. She was taken into custody but had not been charged with any crime, police spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia said.

Authorities spent two days searching for the missing boy before investigators discovered the remains Tuesday, Ciaccia said.

Officers first went to the home on Monday after receiving a tip from a relative who lives in Pakistan that the boy had been buried in the yard, a police report says.

The mother, Larissa Rodriguez, told the officers she had several children living at the home and her 5-year-old son had left with his aunt in early December to go to Texas, the report said. She also said her son was developmentally disabled and was unable to speak, it said.

Officers searched the yard with cadaver dogs without finding anything. FBI and medical examiner investigators dug for about three hours on Tuesday before finding the remains.

Rodriguez was taken into custody in connection with the remains found in the yard after further investigation and interviews, Ciaccia said. She couldn't be reached for comment while in custody, and it was unclear whether she had an attorney who could comment on her behalf.

The medical examiner will identify the body and determine a cause of death after an autopsy, Ciaccia said.

A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County medical examiner said the autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday. The spokesman, Chris Harris, said he could not say when any results would be released.

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

Police 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, Madigan said.

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

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Associated Press reporter Lisa Cornwell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.