HOUSTON – Five-year-old Sierra Patino was "everything" to Priscilla Torres, she said from the Harris County jail in an exclusive interview.
“She was my world,” Torres said. “I would never hurt my little girl.”
What happened to Sierra?
Three weeks ago, Torres and Patino moved in with her boyfriend, Santiago Esparza, she said.
She said they had been together for about a month
“I wish I never would have went with him,” Torres said. “Then I would still have her.”
When Torres was about to get Patino ready for bed Friday night, Aug. 23, she said Esparza insisted on bathing the little girl.
“If we’re going to live together, you need to let me do this,” Torres said Esparza told her. “You need to trust me.”
Torres said she agreed as long as Esparza would leave the door open. But moments later, Torres said she heard her daughter scream from the shower and the door was locked.
“He wouldn’t open it,” Torres said. “I knocked three different times.”
Esparza opened the door several minutes later and Patino was calm, wrapped in a towel, with red, peeling skin on her chin and a bruise on her forehead.
Torres said her daughter hardly ate and hardly spoke a word for the next three days and vomited occasionally.
“I was scared to call anyone," Torres said.
Sierra's last words
That Monday night, Aug. 26, Torres said Patino told her she had seen a vision of her uncle Jessie, who Torres said recently lost his battle with cancer.
“I’m done,” Torres said her daughter told her. “I don’t feel very good.”
That was the last time Torres heard Patino speak, she said.
That night, Torrest said her daughter threw up many times. The next morning, she said Patino struggled to breathe.
“She’s asthmatic,” Torres said from jail. “I gave her my inhaler, but it didn’t help.”
Esparza gave Patino CPR, Torres said, but Patino struggled for breath until she stopped breathing.
Runaway to Mexico
Torres claimed Esparza told her to dress Patino’s body, then he hid it in his closet on top of a pile of clothes and under a blanket.
Then, "He said we should go for a drive,” she added.
Esparza refused to let Torres call the police over the next several days and told her they should run away to Mexico, she said.
Torres said when she eventually insisted on telling police about Patino's death, she said Esparza convinced her to lie and tell officers she had bathed her daughter that night.
“But then I decided to tell them the truth,” Torres said.
Torres said the truth is that Esparza bathed Patino and probably hurt her, that he hid the body and tried to cover it up and suggested they flee the country.
KPRC interviewed Ezparza from jail last Saturday. He denied any wrongdoing and blamed Torres for Patino's death.