A two-year-old girl is dead; the victim of what Austin Police said is a horrific case of child abuse. The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force arrested her mother's boyfriend for his part in what APD is calling murder.
APD detectives have investigations ongoing in this case as well as Child Protectives Services, and the Department of Public Safety.
“The parents had said that the child fell from the staircase and they had attempted CPR as a way to explain what had occurred.” A story Lt. Justin Newsom of APD said just didn't make sense to detectives, hospital staff, and medical examiners as to why two-year-old Juleanna Arevalo died 30 minutes after she was taken to the hospital October 18th. “We do believe that Stephen Cortez who is Juleanna's mother’s boyfriend committed the murder,” Lt. Newsom said.
Cortez is charged with Injury to a Child, a first degree felony and the same level of offense as murder.
APD said after a few days on the run Cortez was taken into custody Friday afternoon at a family's home in Elgin. “He has a violent past, numerous assaults, and a variety of other things, he was a violent person,” Lt. Newsom said.
APD said so far no charges have been filed against the mother but that investigation is still ongoing. DPS
is also doing an external investigation regarding how CPS handled the case, which is standard procedure.
CPS and APD confirmed they have been previously involved with this family, although they could not confirm if CPS had any open cases at the time of her death. “APD had a history of assisting CPS in the recent past attempting to locate Juleanna based on a report from another family member. We assisted CPS which led to CPS finding her and conducting an investigation about approximately the first of October."
While Lt. Newsom said the murder of this little girl is horrific, homicide detectives have to keep their target on finding her justice. “All officers see bad things every day and over time you build up, I won't say a tolerance to it, but you build up mechanisms to overcome the effects of it. So you have to focus on the job at hand and move past the bad things you see,” he said.
Extended family members have set up a GoFundMe to help cover funeral costs of Juleanna. If you would like to help, you can click here.