HOUSTON (AP) _ The mother of a 5-year-old boy whose malnourished body was found in a dumpster five years ago was arrested Thursday and charged with his death.
Ma Dana Martinez, 30, is charged with felony murder — injury to a child by omission. She was being held in the Houston city jail on Thursday and could face an arraignment early next week.
The boy was identified Thursday as Jose Bernardo Martinez. He had come to be known as "Beloved Doe" and "Amado Angelito" (Beloved Little Angel) because authorities initially hit a dead end in their investigation.
The boy's father, Jose Martinez Sr., was one of several tipsters who contacted authorities after a segment about the boy was aired Tuesday on "Aqui y Ahora," an investigative news show on the Spanish-language network Univision.
Police contacted Ma Dana Martinez on Wednesday. She met with detectives and initially denied her role in the crime, but then "ultimately gave a partial confession," Detective Rick Moreno said. Moreno said she tried to justify the crime, but he would not elaborate.
The boy's body was found in a dumpster in March 2003 behind an apartment complex in southeast Houston. The body was wrapped in a gray blanket inside a checkered red and white bag. He was wearing only a disposable diaper.
Moreno said Thursday that Ma Dana Martinez did not live at the complex at the time the body was discovered.
An autopsy showed the boy died of dehydration and malnutrition and probably had been mistreated for at least six months to a year, Moreno said. But he showed no other signs of abuse or injuries.
Ma Dana Martinez had six children in all. She had three others with Jose Martinez, Sr., and had two more children since Jose Bernardo's body was discovered. Moreno said the children — none of whom showed signs of abuse — were now under the care of various relatives.
"They were all fine," Moreno said.
Moreno said the father will not face charges in Jose Bernardo's death. Jose Martinez told police that he had not seen his son in "several" years before he died.
After the boy's death, Moreno said Ma Dana Martinez started telling Jose Martinez and relatives that the boy was in a hospital and that only she was allowed to see him.
"Jose Martinez Senior is also a victim," Moreno said. "He has been repeatedly lied to."
Moreno said Jose Bernardo was probably neglected by Martinez because of an illness. The autopsy showed that the boy had a surgical scar on the right side of his neck and two vertical scars on his abdomen, most likely from the insertion of a feeding tube.
Moreno would not speculate on what sickness the boy may have had. Ma Dana Martinez confirmed that the boy had once used a feeding tube, but Moreno said authorities were still trying to track down medical records.
"It appears this child was singled out, due to some kind of illness, and was allowed to die," Moreno said. "I can't explain why that happened."
For years, authorities were unable to find anyone who may have known the boy or details of his death. Officials had offered $25,000 in reward money to help solve the mystery.
HPD enlisted the FBI to help investigate in January.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.