This update is legitimately breaking my heart, but it needs to be written.
Late on Wednesday, June 17, 28-year-old Lorenzo Gonzalez was arrested in connection with the death of his two-year-old son, Frankie Gonzalez, whos mother, Laura Sanchez Villalon, allegedly confessed to police that she caused Frankie’s death on or around May 28 and transported his little body to a dumpster on or around May 30.
Laura reported Frankie missing from Cameron Park in Waco, Texas on June 1, leading to a massive search encompassing land, air, and water and involving several law enforcement and other agencies. The following day, police say, Laura confessed to her involvement and led police to Frankie’s body in a dumpster located in the parking lot of the Park Lake Baptist Church.
It has since come out that Laura had previously tested positive for opioids and methamphetamine and that Frankie’s baby sister was born in January with drugs in her system. At that time, Laura was on parole from state prison. CPS has also released information indicating Laura previously had six other children removed from her custody due to her drug use.
Now, Frankie’s grieving father, Lorenzo, has been arrested on a second-degree felony charge of abandoning or endangering a child after leaving Frankie and his sisters with their mother after investigators discovered he knowingly signed an agreement with CPS stating he would not leave his children alone with Laura “due to the risk of harm to the children.” According to police, Lorenzo “intentionally left the children alone and unsupervised with Laura in violation of the agreement that was made with the state. This violation ultimately led to the injuries and death of Frankie Gonzalez.”
Lorenzo, who has no criminal record, was booked into the McLennan County Jail around 9:30 PM last night.
The agreement with CPS stipulated that due to Laura’s ongoing drug use, she was required to be supervised at all times while her three youngest children, including Frankie, were with her.
An autopsy report has not yet been released, so Frankie’s cause and manner of death have not yet been announced. For this reason, I assume, Laura has been held only on a first-degree felony charge of injury to a child. I’m sure we will see further charges once the autopsy report is returned. Laura is also being held on a parole violation stemming from the same incident.
Frankie’s three-year-old sister, however, gave her account of what was likely Frankie’s death during a forensic interview on June 1. According to a CPS affidavit, the little girl “stated that her brother Frankie fell in a pool and hurt his arm and closed his eyes and didn’t open them back up.”
CPS caseworkers are required to visit with families under their supervision at least once per month, but more frequent visits can be made if warranted.
CPS is seeking to terminate Laura’s parental rights to Frankie’s sisters, who are respectively three years old and six months old. For now, after a teleconference hearing conducted this week and presided over by Associate Judge Nikki Mudkowsky, the girls will remain in state foster care. Visitation by either Laura or Lorenzo is forbidden. Lorenzo has also been ordered to take a paternity test to prove he is the father of the the girls.
Lorenzo, who has previously tested negative for drugs, has been ordered to undergo random drug testing, and if Laura is released from jail, she must be regularly tested.
The Waco-Tribune, which ran a lengthy piece on these updates last night, has obtained sealed court records regarding CPS efforts to remove Laura’s daughters from the home. The records show that at the time of his son’s death, Lorenzo had primary legal custody of Frankie and his two sisters.
Frankie’s three-year-old sister was placed in her father’s custody after she was born in February of 2017 with opioids in her system. Laura was pregnant with Frankie in December of 2017 when she was sent to prison for violating her probation on a burglary conviction. After Frankie was born in January of 2018, he was also placed into Lorenzo’s custody.
Laura was most recently paroled on May 9 of last year. In January of 2020, when her youngest daughter was born, the baby was also placed with Lorenzo. That baby was also born with opioids in her system, and Laura tested positive for drugs while pregnant with her.
A CPS hearing in April granted Laura only supervised visits with her three youngest children, who remained in Lorenzo’s custody. Lorenzo told a CPS investigator that he and Laura had recently reconciled because he thought she had kicked the drug habit and improved herself. According to him, he left the kids with Laura, thinking the CPS-approved supervisor was supposed to come to the home so Laura was not alone with them.
Lorenzo participated in an interview on Wednesday prior to his arrest. In Spanish, he said that at the time of Frankie’s death, he and Laura were living together with the children. While he went to work, he said, he left the kids with Laura because he trusted her. He told the interviewer that on May 28, Laura told him Frankie went to stay with her son in nearby Killeen, which turned out to be a lie.
Lorenzo said he still did not know how his son died.
The tears in Lorenzo’s eyes in his mugshot utterly broke my heart, and I truly feel for him, but at the same time, it was his lawful and moral responsibility to protect his children. Who else, if not those closest to them, can be expected to do it? CPS and the court system told him not to leave his children alone with Laura. He had to sign a legal agreement saying so. I understand the man is grieving the loss of his son, but — and it physically pains me to say this — as long as he understood the agreement he was signing, he is, for the reasons I just stated, partially responsible for Frankie’s death, and he must be held legally accountable.
Because Lorenzo is being held on an immigration detainer, even if he bonds out of jail, he will be held an additional 48 hours for federal immigration agents to decide whether or not to take him into custody for deportation purposes. Lorenzo is originally from Guanajuato City, Mexico.
Sources: Waco Tribune-Herald, KWTX, KXXV