On Monday, August 6, 2012, Polk County Sheriff's Homicide detectives arrested 25-year-old Edwin Cruz Vargas (DOB 9/18/1986) of 111 Oleander Avenue in Auburndale and charged him with one count Aggravated Child Abuse and one count Negligent Manslaughter Of A Child in the death of his 11-month-old stepson.
According to the affidavit, Vargas' wife left her 11-month-old baby boy Josiah Figueroa (DOB 9/8/2011) in Edwin's care on Saturday, August 4th, for approximately one hour to go to an appointment.
During that time, Vargas, according to interviews with detectives, was trying to teach the baby to walk and got frustrated with him, and shook him. Afterwards, he said, he tried to feed the baby a bottle of formula, but the baby wouldn't drink it. Vargas said formula began to pour out of the baby's nose, so he whacked him on the back, then called 911 and attempted CPR when he became unresponsive. He said that while doing CPR, he slapped and punched the baby, hoping he would "wake up."
An autopsy was conducted on today's date by Dr. Vera Volnikh of the District 10 Medical Examiner's Office. Dr. Volnikh noted the following injuries to the baby's body: a broken lower back; a torn diaphragm around the spinal column which caused internal bleeding; 8 small bruises on the top of his head, and 2 small bruises on the back of his head, consistent with being struck by knuckles; a swollen brain.
The baby's cause of death was ruled blunt force injury, and his manner of death is ruled a homicide. Vargas has been booked into the Polk County Jail on the aforementioned charges.