HEALDSBURG, California — A deranged dad has been charged with the horrific drowning of his 4-year-old daughter in the baptismal font of a California Catholic church.
Gerardo Mendoza Ordaz, 42, was arrested after walking naked up to the Healdsburg police station in Northern California late Sunday with the wet, lifeless body of his daughter in his arms. At his side was his 9-year-old son who was partially clothed, police said.
Cops soon determined that the girl had been drowned in the one-foot-deep baptismal pool in the sanctuary of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church nearby.
“We do believe she was drowned and that it was intentional,” Healdsburg Police Department Chief Kevin Burke said.
Officers tried to revive the child and she was rushed to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. Investigators said they did not have a sense for what the motive was for the killing. Ordaz has been booked on suspicion of murder and is being held without bail.
“They were the only people inside the church at the time. There were no other parties present. As I understand it our local Catholic church, leaves the doors to the premises unlocked late on Sundays. And so they were in there alone at the time through an unlocked door,” Burke said. “We are relying on testimony of the older son and the statement of the suspect.”
Ordaz has a rap sheet, having served several years in the late 1990s on a felony robbery charge in Healdsburg. He lived just outside the town with his wife and their four children. The three surviving children have been left in the custody of their mother.
In a statement issued by the Diocese of Santa Rosa, the church’s pastor, Rev. Sean Rogers, called the girl’s death a “tragedy.”
“When police finish the investigation we will know more. In the meantime, please pray for the family, and the parish community,” he said.