A Florida judge on Thursday ordered a man held on a $1 million bond after he was accused of dousing his 10-year-old adopted son with dangerous chemicals and police also found the dead body of a twin daughter in his pickup truck.
The case was prompted by the discovery on Monday of the pickup truck parked on the side of a busy interstate highway near West Palm Beach, Florida. The mystery has left authorities struggling to piece together what happened.
Police who approached the car say they saw no one in the driver's seat and peered inside to find the young boy trembling, suffering from respiratory distress and dripping in chemicals. He was seated near an open five-gallon gas tank.
The boy's father, exterminator Jorge Barahona, was sprawled on the ground nearby, drenched in gasoline and unresponsive.
Rescue workers covered in masks and head-to-toe protective gear worked to clean the truck and found the decomposing body of Barahona's adopted daughter in a black trash bag.
Judge Ted Booras on Thursday also ordered Barahona, who has been charged with aggravated child abuse, to undergo a mental health evaluation, according to a video of the hearing posted on the website of the Palm Beach Post.
The case has shocked Floridians and raised questions about whether child welfare officials were slow to respond to recent allegations of child abuse against Barahona and his wife.
In a police affidavit, police say Barahona told them he was distraught over his daughter's death and wanted to commit suicide, but he did not provide details on how she died.
He said he planned to kill himself as he sat in his truck and poured gasoline over his body with his son's head in his lap. He also told police he gave his son a handful of sleeping pills. But he added he could not bring himself to ignite a lighter to set himself on fire with his son nearby.
However, police officials say medical examinations of the boy showed injuries including severe chemical burns, a fractured arm, scarring on his stomach and buttocks and markings around his wrists, strongly suggesting some kind of abuse. Investigations were continuing.