Indiana mother and 16-year-old boyfriend charged in 4-year-old girl’s death

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun21,2024

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (TCN) — Police have arrested a 23-year-old mother and her 16-year-old boyfriend in connection with the death of a young girl, which officers called a “very disturbing case.”

Evansville Police first responded to a home on the morning of June 14 after an individual found her roommate’s 4-year-old daughter, Octavia Aquino, unresponsive and “beyond help.” An officer noticed the child was “cold to the touch,” and she was transported to a hospital alive but with “very little brain activity.”

The victim’s mother, Destiny Rhoades, reportedly returned home but was at work that day. Police found Rhoades’ boyfriend, Christian Gonzalez, in the apartment, as well as three other adult women who live there. Police transported the four adults to headquarters to be interviewed. Due to Gonzalez’s age, he did not undergo an interview at the time.

In their statement, police said they uncovered a series of incidents involving Rhoades and her boyfriend. In February, officers reportedly found Gonzalez after he was reported missing out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and they subsequently sent him to the Hillcrest Youth Home. He fled shortly after before officers found him again at Rhoades’ home.

Police placed Gonzalez with the Youth Care Center, but he was later transported back to Fort Wayne. Authorities reportedly arrested Rhoades on a charge of contributing to delinquency of a minor in a separate case, but she was released. Rhoades returned to Fort Wayne pending her court date in April. Gonzalez reportedly disappeared again around the same time Rhoades went to Evansville for court.

During her interview, Rhoades told police her daughter was sleeping when she left for work on June 14. One of her roommates reportedly told investigators she observed bruises on Aquino the day before, “specifically around her neck area.” The roommate also allegedly noticed a human bite mark on the young child’s arm, to which Gonzalez admitted to police “he bit the child but only after she bit him first.”

A roommate reportedly told police that the night before, Aquino appeared to be “staring off and was nauseous” while in her mother’s care.

Officers said Aquino’s bruises, the bite, and her nausea were not reported to law enforcement or medical staff when they happened.

Police initially arrested Rhoades on charges of family offense — neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, family offense — contributing to delinquency of a minor, and family offense — invasion of privacy.

Officials arrested Gonzalez on charges of battery — serious bodily injury and public administration — false informing.

In an update, police announced the death of the victim on Sunday, June 16. Rhoades’ charge of family offense — neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury was upgraded to neglect of a dependent resulting in death.

Gonzalez appeared in juvenile court on June 17 and his charge of battery — serious bodily injury was changed to murder.

Both Rhoades and her boyfriend were booked into the Vanderburgh County Detention Center. They remain held without bond.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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