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Horrific Scene with Tragic Outcome Discovered on FL Hwy

Horrific Scene with Tragic Outcome Discovered on FL Hwy

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The Miami Herald via YellowBrix

February 16, 2011

WEST PALM BEACH — Stranded in an old red pickup by the side of the road, the 10-year-old boy was dripping in acid, badly burned and writhing with seizures.

There was so much of it on Monday morning that it soaked the seats and carpet of the truck, filling the air with poisonous fumes.

Beside him slumped his adoptive father, unconscious and unable, for the moment, to explain what he was doing with the injured boy on the shoulder of northbound Interstate 95 – or to account for the grisly contents of the truck’s covered trailer bed.

Hours after father and son were taken to separate hospitals, the circumstances seemed suspicious to state workers but fell short of sinister. And then they found it: a corpse wrapped in a plain, black garbage bag, tucked in among tubs of unlabeled chemicals.

In a hastily assembled news conference on Tuesday night, a city police spokesman said the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner still was working to identify the “extremely deteriorated,” acid-covered body.

He declined to say whether it had belonged to a child or whether he or she was related to the truck’s driver, 53-year-old Jorge Barahona. The pest exterminator lived in western Miami-Dade County and, with his wife, was raising four adopted children, all younger than 11, officials said.

Although Barahona remained in intensive care at Columbia Hospital in West Palm Beach, police arrested him Tuesday night on a felony charge of aggravated child abuse in connection with an attack on his adopted son, Victor Vocter, said Chase Scott, agency spokesman. Police spoke briefly with Barahona and his wife but were unable to interview the boy.

The Florida Highway Patrol said Tuesday they had recovered a red, plastic gas container from the truck’s cab. The container reeked and was full of acid.

Scott said the attack happened by the side of Interstate 95 but declined to elaborate. He added that police expect to file more charges against Barahona in the near future.

Barahona and his wife, 60-year-old Carmen Barahona, already were the subject of a child abuse investigation by the state’s social services agency.

On Thursday, spurred by a call to a state abuse hot line, the Florida Department of Children and Families opened an investigation into the Barahonas, the latest of “several” such probes into the couple’s treatment of their children, DCF spokesman Mark Riordan said Tuesday.

After the injured boy and the acid-burned body were found, DCF scrambled to see to the safety of Barahona’s remaining adopted children, who had been in state foster care and placed with the Barahonas between 2001 and 2009. Two of the children, Victor and his twin sister, were adopted at the same time.

It was too late for Victor, who lay Tuesday night at St. Mary’s Medical Center, so badly hurt that he was fitted into an incubator at the pediatric intensive care unit. Doctors who examined the boy said he suffered “severe internal reactions,” apparently from inhaling the chemicals, Scott said.

“We’re in the preliminary stages of an extremely tragic and complex set of circumstances,” Riordan said.

A state Road Ranger first spotted Barahona’s red pickup, emblazoned with the name of his Miami-based pest-extermination company, along northbound Interstate 95, between Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and 45th Street, about 5 a.m. on Monday, the FHP said.

He passed the truck again two hours later and called for a trooper to take a look, setting off a series of official responses that saw Barahona and the boy rushed to nearby hospitals. A city hazardous-materials team remained to handle the dangerous chemicals on the truck.

By Monday afternoon, the state Department of Environmental Protection’s emergency responders were poring over the area, noting several large containers in the bed of the pickup. Some were marked, some were unmarked, and one 50- to 75-gallon tub was cracked and leaking, said DEP spokeswoman Cristina Llorens. A powerful acid pooled in the bed and soaked into the truck’s upholstery and carpet.

About 3:45 p.m., a DEP contractor called in to haul the truck away found the body wrapped in the black garbage bag, which had been removed from bed and placed by the front of the truck, Llorens said.

The discovery set into motion a painstakingly slow process that still was unfolding Tuesday night, as an FBI team worked to decontaminate the truck and clear the way for county forensic investigators to examine the body. About 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, investigators retrieved the corpse and brought it to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.

DCF workers put the Barahonas’ other adopted children, between 7 and 11, in the care of Carmen Barahona’s parents, Riordan said.

DCF officials planned to go before a state dependency court judge today for a ruling on whether to remove the children from the Barahonas’ care.

Jorge and Carmen Barahona were married in Coral Gables in 1996, records show. The couple ran CJ’s Pest Exterminator Inc. from their well-kept home at 11501 S.W. 47th Terrace in western Miami-Dade County. Neither had a criminal record in Florida, state records show.

To adopt children from the state’s foster program, the Barahonas had to pass a rigorous background screening and attend training classes, Riordan said.

  • 453_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Prayers for the child. I hope to God he recovers. I plan on giving my son an extra hug when I get home tonight.

  • C1__67__max50


    over 3 years ago


    Horrible horrible story. Hope the little child recovers and the rest of the children are safe.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    When I read about this and then hear that a child was involved, it just breaks my heart. Kids are so helpless when it come to this! This is horrible! It makes you sit back and enjoy your own kids and hope they never become victim to some of the things that we see and deal with!

  • Swat_logo_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Heart-breaking.....Prayer to all involved in this horrible incident.

  • Radio2_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I just read an update to this story. The body in the bag was the fathers daughter. He was distraught over the death of his daughter and intended to commit suicideHere is the link to the story that I just read...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    How many inquiries before someone does somethin to save a child. There is a need to overhaul the way we conduct investigations into foster parents/adoptive parents. To many vulnerable children who we have a obligation to protect are being put into the hands of MONSTERS!

  • P6300003_max50


    over 3 years ago


    WTF is wrong with people???

  • Images_max160_sq90_max50


    over 3 years ago


    I just don't understand...

  • Picture3_007_max50


    over 3 years ago


    This is Horrible,my heart goes out to the child.i hope you can recover from this.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    The Florida Foster Care System is verrry flawed. I've seen it first hand, not to this extreme though.

    Prayers to the child. This is sickening.

  • Eagle_and_flag_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Prayers go out to the child!!!! Very sick situation!!!!

    What bothers me is the couple was already subject of a child abuse investigation, but still had foster kids!!!

  • Snapshot_20111212_9_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Yes.. big bump Alexy. Keep that child in your prayers. What a sad situation, and what an evil coward.

  • Az_phx_motorcade1a_max50


    over 3 years ago


    God help the innocent, and may God torture the guilty!!

  • 179509_413913675314782_526027874_n_max50


    over 3 years ago


    what a horrible ordeal that this child had gone through...i pray that the child recovers and the other children are placed in a safe place..May god protect these children and i pray that the adoptive parents are put under the jail..personally i believe they should get the same treatment that they gave the children.

  • Blue_crop380w_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Big Bump Alexy!!!

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