Three people were arrested on Tuesday, as detectives with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office investigated the Monday night death of a 3-year-old boy in his East Montgomery County home, located at 16625 Edgefield Lane in an area off of Old Houston Rd. between SH 242 and FM 1314.
The dead boy’s aunt and primary caretaker, 26-year-old Crystal Tijerina, was arrested along with her live-in boyfriend, 30-year-old Noah Herrera and a third resident who was identified as 47-year-old Steven Paul Chauvin. The trio is charged with injury to a child, but officials say those charges may be upgraded.
Medics were called to the residence around 6:40 p.m. on Monday after the child stopped breathing. A neighbor, who asked that her identity be withheld, tried to help the boy by performing CPR before the ambulance arrived.
Residents from the child’s home ran to the woman’s front door and knocked, asking if anyone inside knew CPR. She confirmed that they had called 911, and then ran to their house where she said she found the child “lying there, lifeless.”
“I think he was dead already,” she said.
Medics transported the boy by ground ambulance to St. Luke’s Hospital in The Woodlands with CPR in progress, where he was pronounced dead at 7:30 p.m.
Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Edie Connelly conducted an inquest and ordered an autopsy, which was performed on Tuesday by Dr. Patricia Moore at the Southeast Texas Forensic Center in Conroe.
Judge Connelly said the autopsy revealed the cause of death was “blunt abdominal trauma,” and showed multiple other injuries.
MCSO Lt. Dan Norris said investigators with the Major Crimes Division worked through the night and into the next day, interviewing the home’s residents and searching the house for evidence.
Norris said 10 people lived in the home, including four adults and six children, including the dead boy. One of the adults was arrested on an unrelated warrant Monday night and the other three, mentioned previously, were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the boy’s death.
The five surviving children, ages 2 to 10, were removed by Child Protective Services, Norris said.
Meanwhile, the neighbor who tried to save the boy struggled deal with what happened. When she learned CPR, she said she never expected to perform it on a child. The Good Samaritan described finding the small child who she believes was already beyond help as “horrifying.”
“It’s indescribable- a night I’ll never forget,” she said with a trembling voice. “I have children of my own.”
After returning home she hugged her children who were there very tight and called her oldest child to “make sure she was okay.”
“I wish I could’ve done more,” she said. “I wish they would have come over a little bit sooner, I wish they’d found him a little bit sooner.”
“I don’t know all the circumstance maybe we could have saved him.”
Norris declined to comment on what role any of the three suspects might have played. The two men have lengthy criminal histories. Chauvin’s most recent arrest was four months ago, when he was charged with criminal trespass with a deadly weapon. Herrera’s prior charges include assault causes bodily injury. Public Data shows no arrests related to crimes against children for any of the three suspects.