Father of two-year-old abused to death says there were signs
The father of a two-year-old boy, who police said died at the hands of his sister's boyfriend, is speaking about the child’s senseless death.
Noel Leal died sometime between Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
Daniel Leal said the happiest days of his life are the ones he spent with his children.
“Noe always wanted to be on me, always wanted to be around me,” said Daniel.
Read Two people face charges following death of two-year-old
He expected to have so many more of those moments with his two-year-old son Noel until he got an unexpected phone call from his brother-in-law Saturday afternoon.
“He goes, ‘It's about Noe,’ which is Noel. He goes, ‘Noe's not here no more.’ And I said, ‘Quit playing, man,’ and he said, ‘No bro, Noe's gone,’” Daniel said.
Daniel was told his son choked on a potato wedge while Noel's adult sister, Selissa Flores, and her boyfriend, Miguel Zepeda, were babysitting. “My son had left me, he was gone,” said Daniel.
He believed that story for several days until he got another phone call, this time from Austin police.
“Detective Jones tells me, ‘Your son was murdered,’” Daniel said.
Police told Daniel that when they responded to Selissa's home Noel's body was already cold and rigid. After interviewing the suspects and witnesses, Miguel eventually admitted he hit Noel Friday night before putting him to bed. Miguel and Selissa told police Noel was dead by the time they woke up Saturday morning. “Never did I ever think that Miguel would kill my baby,” said Daniel.
The last time Daniel saw his son was in early May and it's how he will always remember Noel; playing, laughing and singing. But there was one thing that Daniel can't stop thinking about. Bruises on Noel's forehead and back that were significant enough he took pictures to document them.
“I always wondered how my son, when I used to get him, would have marks, but the mom always said there's other siblings that stay in that house and that maybe that's the reason why he comes back bruised up,” Daniel said.
The medical examiner found numerous healing injuries on noel's body indicating a history of physical abuse. Police said Miguel admitted to hitting the child before.
“How can somebody just beat a baby, man? How can a person just beat a baby? I mean, he was precious, he was innocent, he was just a baby,” said Daniel.
Now, Daniel is trying to get through each day with the support of his friends and family while he waits for justice for his little boy. “I gotta be strong for Noe,” Daniel said.
Flores and Zepeda are facing a tampering with evidence charge for cleaning up Noel's body and the crime scene before calling 911. Zepeda is also charged with injury to a child.
There is a fundraiser set up on GoFundMe to help the Leal family afford Noel's funeral here.