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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Police Question Boyfriend of Accused Killer

Crime: The live-in partner of woman charged in death of infant is not a suspect, authorities say after several hours of interrogation.

November 16, 2000|TIMOTHY HUGHES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After being sought for questioning by authorities for more than three weeks, the boyfriend of a woman charged with killing a 14-month-old boy turned up at the Oxnard Police Department on Wednesday.

Officers questioned Patrick Santanillo, 31, for several hours after he walked into the station late Wednesday morning.

He is not a suspect at this time, but the investigation is continuing, Oxnard Police Sgt. Jim Seitz said.

Santanillo's live-in girlfriend, Teresa Rodriguez, 20, is charged with one count each of murder and child neglect in connection with the death of Ion Demitri Robledo on Oct. 22.

Rodriguez began taking care of the boy after his mother was sent to jail.

After two postponements and a transfer of the case to an outside law firm because of a conflict of interest at the public defender's office, Rodriguez's arraignment is now set for Tuesday.

The child was pronounced dead at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard after Rodriguez took him to the emergency room when she said she noticed he wasn't breathing. An autopsy revealed the child was underweight and most likely died as a result of physical abuse.

Toxicology reports have not been completed, but investigators suspect the boy ingested heroin or another illegal drug in the days before his death.

After Rodriguez's arrest, investigators focused on finding Santanillo, who told investigators that he didn't come forward because he feared what would happen to him, police said. Santanillo said the 3-year-old daughter he and Teresa Rodriguez had together is living with grandparents in Mexico.

"He gave us a statement and he was free to leave," Seitz said. "He assured us that his daughter was safe with relatives."

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