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Mother arrested after baby boy found dead in freezer in Homestead

Paola Vargas-Ortiz released on house arrest, faces manslaughter charge

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MIAMI – The mother of a 5-month-old boy who was found in a freezer in Homestead is facing a manslaughter charge.

Paola Vargas-Ortiz was arrested Thursday and booked into the Turner Guilford-Knight Correctional Center. A judge later ruled that she could be released on house arrest.

Police were called to a home at 2482 NE Third Court last month after she told Monroe County sheriff's deputies that her baby boy had drowned and was in the freezer at his father's home in Homestead.

When officers arrived, they found the baby, identified as Hugo Alvarez-Vargas, dead in the freezer. The boy was wrapped in a blanket and fully clothed.

Deputies said Vargas-Ortiz was threatening to kill herself by jumping off the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys.

According to an arrest warrant, Vargas-Ortiz told deputies that she was depressed and had ingested rat poison. The report said Vargas-Ortiz told a deputy that she was bathing her baby when he slipped out of her hands.

An autopsy determined that the baby died from a lack of oxygen, and a piece of cotton was lodged in his nostril.

As a condition for her release, Vargas-Ortiz is required to remain under continuous supervision by her family. She is also required to continue counseling.

Assistant state attorney Scott Warfman called her a "walking time bomb" who tried to kill herself, but her attorney said she was discharged from a mental hospital because she didn't meet the criteria.

Vargas-Ortiz's husband attended Thursday's hearing but had nothing to say to reporters as he left the courtroom.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Children and Families has an open investigation.