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Columbus mother, stepfather indicted in 7-year-old boy’s ‘severe abuse’ death

Columbus police said the boy's mother is charged with murder and his stepfather is charged with endangering children.
Oneida Maldando-Cortez , left, and Jose Emanual Santos, right. (Images Courtesy of Columbus Division of Police)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The mother and stepfather of a 7-year-old Columbus boy who authorities say was severely beaten have been indicted on murder charges in connection with his death.

The Franklin County Prosecutor's Office said Wednesday that an indictment was brought against 24-year-old Oneida Fabiola Maldonado-Cortez and 37-year-old Jose Emanuel Santos-Perez.

On May 23, at around 8:15 pm, police and EMS workers went to a home in the 2000 block of Azelda Street on a call that a child may have drowned in a bathtub.

Officers found 7-year-old Fabian Maldonado-Cortez unresponsive. He was given CPR until medics arrived. The boy was taken to Nationwide Children's Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A report by the Franklin County Coroner’s office documented multiple blunt force injuries on Fabian’s head, neck, chest, abdomen, back and extremities. There were also patterned “U” shaped abrasions, along with nine significant burn injuries on the boy’s chest.

Both Oneida Fabiola Maldonado-Cortez and Jose Emanuel Santos-Perez have been indicted on one count of murder, one count of felonious assault and three counts of endangering children.

The pair is also accused of abusing Fabian and his 2-year-old brother between December 1, 2019 and May 23, 2020. 

According to court records, Maldonado-Cortez admitted to beating the boy with cords and a metal pipe, and not taking him to the hospital.

Police said Santos-Perez admitted to observing his wife beat Fabian with several objects for months but was afraid to call the police or get help, according to court documents. He said he did not want his wife to go to jail.

Franklin County Children Services said they had not been called to the house in the past.

The 2-year-old has been placed in protective custody.

The pair are scheduled to be arraigned on Friday at 1 p.m.