Couple Burned 1-Year-Old With Blowtorch Prior to His Death: Police

A California couple who police say tortured their 1-year-old son to death using a mini blowtorch have been arrested.

The toddler is said to have suffered "ongoing abuse" throughout his short life.

One of the implements police say was used to abuse him was a mini blowtorch, known as a torch lighter and often used in kitchens.

Police in Barstow arrested the couple April 25 after a tip-off from hospital staff.

Jamari Mendez
Police say Jamari Mendez had burn marks and other injuries to his body. GoFundMe, Leslie Mendez/Zenger

They named the parents as 27-year-old Ricardo Mendez and 24-year-old Antanita Miller.

"On Monday, April 25, 2022, at approximately 7:55PM, officers of the Pomona Police Department responded to the Pomona Valley Hospital to investigate a suspicious death of a one-year-old male child," read an April 27 statement from the Barstow Police Department.

"The child arrived at the hospital unresponsive and was pronounced deceased by medical personnel upon arrival.

"Pomona Police Detectives observed that the child/victim sustained injuries consistent with ongoing abuse.

"The officers observed visible signs of trauma to the victim's body such as lesions, bruising, and burn marks."

Antanita Miller Jamari Mendez
Antanita Miller, 24, has both been charged with torture, assault of a child, and murder for the death of her 1-year-old son Jamari Mendez. Barstow Police Department/Zenger

The police explained that it was clear that the torture had gone on for some time.

They added: "Some of the injuries appeared to be in different stages of the healing process."

The statement continued: "Further investigation by the Pomona Police detectives revealed that the abuse likely occurred in the child's home where he lived with his parents in Barstow, California and that the victim died of those injuries in Barstow prior to his parents driving him to Pomona, CA.

"The Pomona Police Department then notified the Barstow Police Department of the status of their investigation.

"The Barstow Police Department assigned homicide detectives and crime scene investigators to this investigation.

"Detectives and crime scene investigators responded to the child's home in the 700 Block of East Virginia Way in Barstow and to Pomona Valley Hospital.

"Detective Mathew Helms and Detective Monty Franklin responded to Pomona where they interviewed witnesses and contacted the victim's parents, Ricardo Mendez, a 27-year-old Barstow resident and Antanita Miller, a 24-year-old Barstow resident.

"During the investigation detectives learned that on April 25, 2022, at approximately 7:00 PM, Ricardo Mendez and Antanita Miller arrived unexpectedly at Mendez's family's home located in the city of Pomona."

Ricardo Mendez Jamari Mendez
Ricardo Mendez, 27, has both been charged with torture, assault of a child, and murder for the death of his 1-year-old son Jamari Mendez. Barstow Police Department/Zenger

The local authorities continued: "Family members located the victim's lifeless body in the back of Ricardo Mendez's and Antanita Miller's vehicle.

"Some of Mendez's family members immediately drove the victim to the Pomona Valley Hospital for treatment.

"Ricardo Mendez and Antanita Miller stayed at the family home and did not initially go to the hospital.

"Antanita Miller eventually arrived at the hospital where officers detained her. Ricardo Mendez left the family home and was located and detained in the 2100 block of Spencer Street by Pomona Police Officers.

"Barstow Police Detectives served search warrants at the residence of Ricardo Mendez and Antanita Miller and on their vehicle.

"During the service of the search warrants, the detectives located items of evidence believed to have been used during the assault on the victim."

One item was a torch lighter, believed to have been used to inflict burns on the toddler's body.

The police stated: "Ricardo Mendez was booked at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga for Penal Code 187(a) - Murder and Penal Code 3056 - Parole Violation. Antanita Miller was booked at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga for Penal Code 187(a) - Murder."

The investigation is ongoing.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.