The parents of a 6-week-old infant found dead by police in February are being charged with first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death, Colorado Springs police said.
Police arrested the child's parents, John Ostranger, 21, and Donica Mirabal, 23, on Monday after obtaining warrants charging them in the killing, police said. The El Paso County Coroner's Office stated that the infant died as a result of prolonged, intentional neglect and lack of care on the part of Mirabel and Ostranger.
The charges come after a six-month police investigation into the death of Zayden Ostranger.
On Feb. 28, police and firefighters were dispatched to an apartment in the 1500 block of South Eighth Street to investigate a report of an unresponsive child, police said. Firefighters found the infant dead in his bassinet.
According to arrest affidavits for Ostranger and Mirabal:
Upon further investigation, it was found that in the days leading up to his death, Zayden had consistently felt cold and clammy to the touch and did not regularly eat or go to the bathroom. The day before he died, he stopped eating completely. Mirabel and Ostranger did not take the child to the hospital because they do not have a vehicle and Ostranger suggested they wait another day. UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, where Zayden was born, had previously educated the couple about the care and possible issues when caring for a premature infant.
On Feb. 28, Mirabel slept most of the day, even though she was Zayden's sole care provider throughout the day. At 1:30 p.m., Mirabel got up and noticed Zayden was pale and limp in her arms. At 3:30 p.m., she moved the infant to the bassient. At 5:30 p.m. she noticed Zayden was "ice cold" and told Ostranger she thought Zayden was deceased. Fire Department paramedic Ben Shunko, who responded to the 911 call, said Zayden looked like "he was out of an Auschwitz movie." Shunko described the infant as "skin and bones."
Mirabal said that during her pregnancy, she was only seen three times for checkups and smoked marijuana consistently. She confirmed that Zayden was born premature at 36 weeks and 6 days, tested positive for THC and was kept in the hospital for four additional days due to weight loss complications.
Terri Villegas, Mirabal's mother, described concerns she had about Ostrander and Mirabal's parenting abilities that led her to report the family to the Department of Human Services in hopes that the agency would require both to attend parenting classes. She also described how the day Zayden died, he was wearing the same clothes that she dropped him off in three days prior.
This is the 21st homicide investigation conducted by police in 2017. Last year at this time, the department had conducted 14 homicide investigations.