3-Year-Old Dies After Horrific Alleged Push by Aunt

Victoria Moreno shoved 3-year-old Josiah Brown off Chicago pier, watched him sink, prosecutors say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2022 11:00 AM CDT
Updated Sep 26, 2022 12:06 PM CDT
Prosecutors: Aunt Pushed Boy Off Pier, Watched Him Sink
Victoria Moreno.   (Chicago Police Department)

(Newser) Update: A 3-year-old boy who authorities say was pushed off Chicago's Navy Pier into Lake Michigan by his aunt has died, the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office has announced, per the Chicago Sun-Times. The child, identified as Josiah Brown, was pronounced dead just after 10:15am on Sunday, six days after police say Victoria Moreno, 34, shoved him into the water and stood there watching as he sank. Divers pulled Josiah out 30 minutes later, and he'd been at Lurie Children's Hospital in critical condition since, with seizures, bleeding in the lungs, and a swollen brain, per FOX 32. He also needed a heart infusion due to a depressed heart. Moreno has so far been charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery of a child, though officials say those charges may be upgraded now that Josiah has died. She'll next appear in court on Friday. Our original story from Thursday follows:

A woman pushed her 3-year-old nephew off Chicago's Navy Pier and then watched silently as he sank beneath the surface of Lake Michigan, prosecutors say. Divers found the boy 30 minutes later. He was taken to Lurie Children's Hospital but he isn't expected to survive, Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said at a bond hearing for Victoria Moreno on Wednesday, per the Chicago Sun-Times. Scaduto said Moreno, 34, slipped out of the family home Monday morning while another aunt and the boy's grandmother were busy. She said Moreno stole the keys to a truck the family wouldn't let her drive because of her mental health issues. Prosecutors said Moreno stole a family car a week earlier and took the boy and two nieces to the same pier, but the older of the two nieces called relatives, reports ABC7.

Prosecutors said Moreno waited until she thought nobody was watching before she pushed the boy into the water. Passersby called 911 and threw a life preserver into the water, but Moreno did nothing, Scaduto said. "Not once during any of these events did the defendant scream for help, call for help, ask for help, or try herself to help," Scaduto said, per the Sun-Times. "When the police arrived, the defendant pretended not to know anything about the child." Judge Susana Ortiz denied Moreno bail, calling her actions "intentionally brutal and heinous." She said Moreno poses a danger to the community, especially to her relatives and children in general. Moreno faces charges of aggravated battery of a child under the age of 13 and attempted first-degree murder, Fox News reports.

At Wednesday's hearing, public defender Patrick Shine said the incident happened after a psychotic break and argued that Moreno should be freed on bail so she could seek help for severe mental health issues. Witness Ashton King says knowing the incident was intentional makes it even more disturbing. "I have a son who is about that boy's age. I relive the image every day," she says, per ABC7. "He just looked so panicked and scared, and to think that somebody he trusted put him in that position is horrendous." King says she called 911 and her friend threw a life presever in the water after they heard a splash and saw the terrified boy floating on his back. "His eyes were super, super wide, and he was trying his best to stay afloat," she says, per the Sun-Times. (Read more Chicago stories.)

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