Hi there! It's been a while. I've been hard at work on several projects, but I wanted to take a few moments to share a story that I recently produced for my website claudiariverotv.com. I hope you watch it. Please know that it does contain graphic content.
It's a story out of Galveston, Texas, about a little boy whose body was found by a woman walking on the beach on October 20, 2017. The child was naked and showed signs of long-term abuse and neglect.
Nobody showed up to claim the child at the scene. Hours went by, but no one came. How could that be? Investigators had a dead toddler, and no one was coming forward to identify him. Several days later, an FBI agent assisting with the investigation, gave him the nickname "Little Jacob." For months his tiny body sat at the county morgue.
Fearing the case might go cold, investigators decided to take a big risk. In January, three months after the body was found, they released a photo of the dead baby to the public. It was a controversial, unorthodox move and investigators prepared for public outcry. Instead, they say, sharing the photo turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
You know why? Because someone from the community saw it on the news and called Galveston Police. In late June, eight months after he washed up on the beach, "Little Jacob" was finally identified as 4-year-old Jayden Alexander Lopez of Houston.
His mother, Rebecca Rivera, and her partner, Danai Amezquita Gomez, were arrested in connection with the case. It's still not clear how Jayden died, but an autopsy revealed that he did not have water in his lungs; therefore, Jayden, investigators say, was likely dead before he was dumped in the bay. Detectives believe that both women went to Galveston to get rid of Jayden's body.
This case took its toll on detectives from the Galveston Police Department and from the FBI field office in Houston. Several weeks before the arrests, I had the pleasure of interviewing lead Detective Jeff Banks, and he told me then that he was confident they were gonna solve this case. He worked on it from day one and followed up on hundreds of leads, 500 names to be exact. Detective Banks, a father himself, has been little Jayden's voice. It's also worth noting that the community in Galveston kept "Little Jacob" in the public eye by holding vigils and creating a memorial in his honor. Strangers gave him dignity, love and respect as they waited for justice in his death. Strangers stood up for Jayden when the people who were supposed to protect him did not.
Public Information Officer for Galveston Police, Captain Joshua Schirard, was also a pleasure to work with. He took time off his busy schedule to meet with us. A "no comment" or unanswered emails and phone calls are not how he runs the PIO office. My photographer and I are incredibly grateful for his time.
As with many unsolved cases, the public played a vital role in the outcome of this investigation. But it must be said: Galveston Police did an incredible job of keeping this little boy in the public eye and did not allow the media coverage to dwindle. Also, had they not taken that crucial step of releasing the controversial photo, chances are Jayden would still be unidentified at the county morgue. Instead, Jayden got a proper burial, and hopefully, justice in his death will soon prevail.
RIP Little Jayden. You mattered, little guy. You absolutely mattered.