A California man has been arrested in the decades-old killings of five of his infant children.
The Yolo County Sheriff’s Office says 57-year-old Paul Perez of Delano was arrested in the deaths of his children born between 1992 and 2001.
“I cannot think of a case more disturbing than this one. There can be no victim more innocent than an infant and unfortunately this case involves five of them,” Yolo County Sheriff Tom Lopez said.
Authorities started investigating after the decomposed remains of a 3-month-old baby were found by a fisherman in 2007 in an irrigation slough.
The office says Perez is suspected in the the deaths of four other of his children. The remains of three of them have not been found.
The arrest came after the infant found in a Woodland-area slough in 2007 inside a submerged box was identified in October, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The infant’s body was found on March 29, 2007, in an irrigation canal popular with anglers looking for carp or catfish. A fisherman named Brian Roller told local news reporters at the time that he shot an arrow into the murky water, and it struck a box buried under the mud. When he hauled the box out of the water and opened it, he found stones used to weigh it down and the baby’s badly decomposed body wrapped in a blanket.
Authorities said a decomposed diaper was also in the box, indicating the infant had been cared for at some point.
Investigators immediately treated the case as a homicide and submitted the baby’s DNA to the U.S. Department of Justice in hopes of obtaining an identity. They also enlisted the help of a forensic anthropologist, who determined the remains were those of a boy about 1 month old who died of blunt force trauma.