A Cook County judge, citing allegations of an “intentionally brutal and heinous” attack, ordered a Des Plaines woman held without bail for allegedly tossing her 3-year-old nephew off of Chicago’s Navy Pier and then doing nothing as passersby and first responders tried to save the boy this week.
The child, who spent about 30 minutes at the bottom of Lake Michigan, is not expected to survive, prosecutors said.
Authorities said that Victoria Moreno, 34, has extensive mental health issues and took her young relatives on an unapproved trip to Navy Pier just one week earlier. Judge Susana Ortiz said the previous trip demonstrated “some level of premeditation.”
Moreno took her 3-year-old nephew from the family home without permission and took him for a McDonald’s Happy Meal before walking down the north side of Navy Pier around 1:30 p.m. Monday, prosecutor Lorraine Scaduto said.
The boy was nearly struck by a car near the pier’s parking garage entrance before Moreno grabbed him and led him to the edge of the pier, where a chain runs along the edge of a walkway, Scaduto said.
At one point, the boy crawled under the chain, but Moreno pulled him back by his foot when other people approached. Scaduto alleged that after they were gone, she allowed the boy to crawl back under the chain, then crouched behind him and tossed him into the water with both hands.
Navy Pier’s security cameras recorded the entire incident.
He fell about 6½ feet and remained on the surface for a short time before vomiting twice and then sinking to the bottom, said Scaduto, a veteran prosecutor who appeared to become emotional as she detailed the horrific allegations.
She said Moreno sat down and stared at the boy as he was drowning. While other passersby tossed a ring buoy toward the child, Moreno told them she didn’t know the boy or what happened to him, Scaduto said.
“Not once,” Scaduto alleged, “did the defendant scream for help, call for help, ask for help, or try herself to help.”
She said the boy remains hospitalized. He has suffered a swollen brain, multiple cardiac arrest events, and a series of seizures, Scaduto said. He is on a ventilator and cardiac support. Doctors will reevaluate his brain activity in a few days.
“It is not likely he will survive,” Scaduto said.
Last week, Moreno took young relatives without the family’s permission to the same location, including an 11-year-old who became so concerned about what was happening that she sent family members a pin marker so they could locate the children, according to Scaduto.
Assistant Public Defender Patrick Shine said Moreno is on medication for mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression.
She is charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery of a child under the age of 13. Scaduto said upgraded charges might be filed if the boy does not survive.