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Mother of slain Central Texas toddler indicted for capital murder

Frankie Gonzales' mother, Laura Sanchez, is charged with injury to a child. Police said more charges could eventually be filed against the woman.
Frankie Gonzales' mother, Laura Sanchez, is charged with injury to a child. Police said more charges could eventually be filed against the woman.(McLennan County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 11:03 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 1:11 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Laura Sanchez, also known as Laura Villalon, 35, the mother of a toddler whose bruised and battered body was found in a trash dumpster behind a Waco church was named in indictments Thursday charging capital murder and injury to a child.

Frankie Gonzales, whose battered body was found on June 2 in a dumpster behind a North Waco church, was just 28 months old when he died, but his short life was brutal, according to an autopsy report that shows he suffered a broken arm, broken ribs, a head injury and was bruised all over his 33-inch frame.

The autopsy concludes Frankie “died as a result of homicidal violence, including blunt force trauma,” and says such additional injuries as smothering “or other forms of asphyxiation” cannot be ruled out.

The boy’s father, Lorenzo Gonzales, was indicted Thursday for child abandonment and injury to a child by omission.

Sanchez and Gonzales both remain in the McLennan County Jail.

Sanchez admitted to investigators she “pushed/slammed” the boy’s head against a wall on May 28, later found her son unresponsive in bed and placed his body in a closet, authorities said.

Two days later, on May 30, she wrapped Frankie’s body in trash bags and placed him in the dumpster, court documents show.

Sanchez reported the toddler missing on June 1 in Cameron Park.

Authorities launched a massive search for the boy, leading to a statewide Amber Alert.

The following morning, Sanchez led investigators to a dumpster near Park Lake Baptist Church at 701 North 27th St., about 2 ½ miles from the park

The 25-pound toddler was dressed in a gray long-sleeved shirt and gray pants decorated with the Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Pluto, black Nikes, gray socks, one with a green stripe and one with a blue stripe, a white onesie and striped briefs over a disposable diaper.

A black skull cap had been placed on his head and was pulled down over his eyes.

He had suffered lacerations to his forehead and the inside of his upper lip, had multiple contusions on his forehead, scalp, back, arms and legs, a hematoma on the top of his head, and a subdural hemorrhage, the autopsy report says.

His right humerus, the upper arm bone, and three of his ribs had been fractured.

The fractures were consistent with blunt force trauma from a minimum of two events, the report says.

“The location of the rib fractures suggests a mechanism of…compression of the rib cage due to an impact to or compression of the chest,” the report says.

“The injury to the humerus is likely due to being or …twisting of the arm.”

The arm and rib fractures were in the process of healing and evidently occurred anywhere from two to six weeks before the boy died.

He suffered lacerations to his forehead and the inside of his upper lip, had multiple contusions on his forehead, scalp, back, arms and legs, a hematoma on the top of his head, and a subdural hemorrhage, the report says.

Police arrested Sanchez on June 2.

She was initially charged with injury to a child and was ordered held in lieu of $500,000 bond.

Fifteen days later, on June 17 authorities arrested the boy’s father after the toddler’s two siblings, who were placed in foster care after the body was found, “tested positive for high levels of methamphetamine, indicating the children were recently in direct contact with the substance,” an arrest warrant affidavit says.

Gonzales was charged with child abandonment or endangerment.

His bond was set at $50,000 and he’s held without bond on an immigration detainer.

Investigators learned Gonzales had signed a safety plan on April 22 with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, agreeing he would not leave the toddler and his two siblings unsupervised with Sanchez "due to risk of harm to the children," police said.

The agency, the arrest affidavit says, "was concerned that Laura's drug use could cause the children harm."

Gonzales was to allow her only supervised contact with the children and he agreed to notify both the agency and police if she threatened to take them unsupervised, the affidavit says.

Gonzales, the affidavit said, told an investigator that he left for work on May 28, the day that his wife told police the toddler died, "and left all the children unsupervised with Laura Sanchez," the affidavit says.

“This violation ultimately led to the injuries and death of Frankie Gonzalez,” police said.

Sanchez lost custody of six older children several years ago over allegations and neglect, according to Waco lawyer Gerald Villarrial, who represented interests of the six children during proceedings to terminate Sanchez's parental rights.

Gonzales got custody of the oldest of the three children he had with Sanchez, Villarrial said, and because he had a good track record was able to let Sanchez have surprise visits with the child.

Frankie’s two siblings remain in foster care under the supervision of Texas Child Protective Services.

Frankie Gonzales was laid to rest in a private ceremony at Rosemound Cemetery on June 9.

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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