Parents Arrested After Autistic Child Found Dead in Nearby Pond

Sanford, Florida – In a tragic incident, two parents in Sanford, Florida are facing manslaughter charges following the death of their 3-year-old son. The Sanford Police Department reported that Lester Ortiz contacted law enforcement on Saturday afternoon to report that his son, Ethan Ortiz Ruiz, was missing.

The parents informed the police that Ethan, who was diagnosed with autism, had previously wandered away from their apartment on multiple occasions, but had been found by neighbors.

When officers arrived at the home, they detected a strong smell of marijuana and observed that both Ortiz and Ruiz had bloodshot eyes. Ruiz mentioned hearing a door open and close and asked her 15-year-old daughter to check. Despite searching the apartment, the child was not found. However, officers discovered Ethan in a nearby pond. He was rushed to Lake Monroe Hospital by Sanford firefighters, but tragically, he did not survive. The Florida Department of Children and Families accompanied law enforcement to the hospital.

During the investigation, Ruiz and Ortiz revealed that they possessed medical marijuana cards and regularly smoked marijuana. On Sunday, the Sanford police arrested the parents, Barbara Ruiz and Lester Ortiz, on charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child.

According to the arrest report, Ortiz had called the police approximately 30 minutes after Ethan went missing. Ruiz claimed she was in the bathroom when she heard the front door open and close, unaware that Ethan had left the apartment. The parents stated that Ethan had previously left the residence on three separate occasions, with neighbors returning him twice.

Barbara Ruiz is currently held at the John Polk Correctional Facility, while Lester Ortiz was taken to the hospital due to a health concern after his arrest. Both parents are scheduled to appear before a judge on Monday afternoon. The tragic death of Ethan Ortiz Ruiz serves as a reminder of the importance of child safety and supervision.