Boyfriends and babies can be a dangerous combination
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SAN ANTONIO - Horrific injury, sexual assault and even death at the hands of a mother's boyfriend are all crimes that happened in San Antonio last year.
There are close to 5,000 cases of confirmed child abuse each year in Bexar County but child advocates will tell you the most deadly are generally those involving children age 4 and younger.
In November of 2016, Ricardo Hernandez was indicted on capital murder charges for the death of his girlfriend's 4 year old son. He suffered a severed aorta and a broken back. Hernandez told police he was frustrated with bills, his inability to find a job and the stress of taking care of 4 children.
225th District Court Judge Peter Sakai said boyfriends caring for babies can be a dangerous combination.
"I call it de factor daycare," Sakai said. "It's daycare of the last resort."
Director of Voices for Children, Kathy Fletcher explained some caretakers find themselves stressed out and overwhelmed.
"Babies cry, toddlers throw tantrums and they have toileting accidents," Fletcher said. "You have to have a fair amount of patience in that and if someone has no relationship with the child, no experience, it puts a baby in a very risky situation."
Both Fletcher and Sakai think subsidized childcare would provide a much needed safety net.
In some situations, children are a victim of circumstance, but in the worst cases, they are exposed to predators repeatedly.
In March of 2017, Crystal Herrera's boyfriend, Isaac Andrew Cardenas was charged with 2 counts of super aggravated sexual assault for causing horrific injuries to a 21 month old.
Child advocates say abusers generally fit a particular profile.
"If there is an impatience and a jealousy right away, that's a big red flag," Fletcher said.
"The person's intense desire to control and dominate and obviously in it's worst form, it's physical assault, it's sexual assault," Sakai said.
Moms need to both recognize the signs of an abuser and be willing to take the steps to get help.
"I used to cry, I remember just crying," said domestic violence survivor, Gwendolyn Wilder.
The abuse was verbal at first, then emotional. Wilder felt unworthy and also uneasy about her longtime boyfriend's temper.
"I would tell my son don't interact with him," Wilder said. "Stay in your room and keep your doors locked."
The isolation began, the arguments escalated and one heated night the abuse got physical.
"He literally picked me up off the floor, my feet were off the floor and he pushed me to the back door," Wilder said.
Her son endured years of emotional abuse and she believes what kept him from being physically abused was the fact that he was never home when it happened.
Eventually Wilder reached out to the Battered Women and Children's Shelter and she said she was amazed by what a positive experience it was. She was able to get legal assistance, counseling, and relocation assistance.
If you'd like more information about the shelter, click here: Battered Women and Children's Shelter
Child Abuse Hotline: 210-733-8810