Florida mom charged in death of 3-year-old who escaped 3rd floor apartment and drowned: police

 The child was missing for eight hours before being found dead

A Florida mother is being charged in the death of her son, who is believed to have escaped their third-floor apartment for "approximately eight hours" before he drowned in a nearby pond, police said.

The Ormond Beach Police Department said Myra Santiago, 22, a resident of Ormond Beach, was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child after her 3-year-old son, Azriyh, was found dead by police.

According to the police report, the child escaped their apartment located at San Marco Drive shortly before 7 a.m. Emergency personnel from the Ormond Beach Fire Department found him just before 2 p.m. and attempted life-saving measures. Rescuers were unable to resuscitate the boy.

His mother was sleeping the entire time, police said.


The apartment where Santiago lived

Ormond Beach police said Myra Santiago, 22, a resident of Ormond Beach, was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and child neglect. (Google Maps)

The boy was last seen on a neighbor’s surveillance camera running along the property with an electronic tablet in his hands, police said.

Captain Chris Roos said investigators viewed the surveillance video, which shows the 3-year-old running by the camera at approximately 6:46 a.m. before he moves to an area behind the apartment a minute later.

"The video shows Azriyh walking around with what appears to be a tablet with a blue case," the police report said. "He was seen looking around and then ran directly toward the pond when the video ends."

Police then questioned Santiago, who told them she last saw her son when he came into her room around 6 a.m. to ask for his electronic tablet. This is a usual routine for them, she explained, as he typically retrieves the device and returns to his room until he comes back later to get her for breakfast, per the police report.



Santiago told police she woke up that afternoon, around 1:45 p.m., and noticed Azriyh was missing. She searched the apartment and started looking for him in the surrounding area when she saw crime scene tape and spoke with police.

Ormond Beach police said Santiago also provided details inconsistent with other witnesses who were questioned by deputies.

A photo of Myra Santiago

Myra Santiago, 22, was arrested on Sunday, April 23, 2023. (Volusia County Division of Corrections)

Santiago said a 15-year-old male juvenile "friend," who frequents the residence, was sleeping on the couch the night before her son went missing. The 15-year-old, who was not charged with a crime, said he was sleeping in her bed that night.

Another inconsistency concerned the morning the child went missing. The 15-year-old told police that Santiago noticed her son was missing after she showered, but Santiago said he was the one that showered, not her.

According to police, the apartment, which was located on the third floor, also lacked proper safety mechanisms to ensure the safety of the child.

"I did not see any child safety locks or devices to prevent [Azriyh] from leaving the apartment, which was located on the third floor," said Officer Kevin Myers, who searched the residence.



Authorities also said Santiago admitted to knowing her son has escaped the apartment several times before.

Per the police report, Santiago claimed she did not have money available to pay for a child-safety lock, although Myers found over $100 in cash on her dresser. He also found "numerous glass smoking pipes, marijuana, e-cigarettes and several bottles of alcohol in the freezer," he said.

"There was plenty of evidence to show that Myra had the funds to purchase the lock, but failed to do so," Myers wrote.

A Ormond Beach police vehicle

Captain Chris Roos said the 3-year-old child was last seen on a neighbor's surveillance video. (Ormond Beach Police Department)

The police report also stated that Santiago’s neighbor also contradicted her account.

Santiago told police that she left her son at a neighbor’s home on Saturday night when she left to have drinks at the Daytona Beach boardwalk with a friend. The neighbor told police she never watched the 3-year-old and provided them screenshots of messages Santiago sent to her advising that she lie to the police for her.

The messages read:

''Can you tell the Police you watched Aziryh last night'' 

''It’s important girl'' 

''I'm going through so much right now" 

''I came and got him from your place at 2 or 3'' 

''I’ll tell you later about everything I'm freaking out"

The neighbor never watched the child, she told police in a sworn written statement.

The screenshots of the messages and the neighbor’s surveillance footage were collected as evidence.

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