MIDDLETOWN -- The Middletown Police have charged Tony Moreno, 21, of Middletown, with murder and murder with special circumstances in the death of his son, 7-month-old Aaden Moreno.
On Wednesday, Middletown Police held a press conference to announce the charges that were filed against Moreno, and to explain the methods used to locate the body of Aaden. Police Information Officer Lt. Heather Desmond began the press conference by calling for a moment of silence in honor of Aaden Moreno.
On Wednesday night the community of Middletown will remember Aaden during a vigil Wednesday at 6 p.m. on the South Green.
Police said that just before midnight on Sunday, Tony Moreno's mother called police to report that her son was planning to commit suicide. "My son just called me and said that he is on the Portland Bridge and he was going to jump and he has his 7-month-old son with him," she said while driving to the bridge with her younger 17-year-old son.
She said Tony told her to come get his phone and the stroller so she had images of Aaden, and she could hear Aaden cooing, then crying in the background. Tony said, "Sorry, just tell everyone I'm sorry," before hanging up.
When officers arrived, they witnessed Tony Moreno jump 100 feet down into the river, though they didn't see him holding a baby. Police were unsure what happened to baby Aaden, but did see an empty stroller near where his father jumped, so an immediate search began for Aaden and a Silver Alert was issued.
Moreno was treading water where he fell in, where there was only about 6 feet of water, and he was rescued from by Middletown Fire. He was asked what happened to Aaden, but was unable to respond and became unresponsive. He was taken to the hospital for his injuries, and when he regained full consiousness he told officers he threw Aaden in the river before jumping, at which point the search became classified as a recovery mission.
The baby was found by a kayaker in the Connecticut River near the East Haddam Swing Bridge Tuesday around 6:30 p.m. after nearly 48 hours of search efforts. The baby was wearing the same clothes that Aaden was last seen in, and when his family arrived on the scene they identified the body as that of Aaden Moreno.
A warrant was signed on Wednesday morning for Tony Moreno, charging him with murder and murder with special circumstances. It was served to him in the hospital, where he was still healing physically and was being held under a psych hold after trying to commit suicide. He he is being held on a $2 million bond.
He was also arrested on a previous arrest warrant that was issued on June 25 charging him with two counts of criminal violation of a protective order, one for Aaden, and one for his mother, Adrianne Oyola, 19. A $100,000 bond was issued for that arrest.
According to the arrest warrant, just minutes before the deadly incident occurred Tony had been texting with Oyola. Tony said he needed to talk to her, and was upset at how long she took to get back to him.
He then wrote "Well I'm sorry there was a problem regarding our son," and she responded "Why didn't you say that instead of saying I need to talk to you."
A few text messages later, when Oyola asked what was the matter, Tony said "Don't worry, you'll see later. Just remember I tried contact you first." [sic]
Oyola then asked "Are you in the hospital?" to which Tony said, "No, and again it doesn't matter now. Just remember you wanted to play games and lie and be childish when I tried to reach out."
You can read the full conversation here.
A temporary restraining order was in effect beginning on June 17, requested by Oyola because she said she feared for her safety. However, a permanent restraining order was denied by a judge at the next court hearing.
You can read the entire transcript from the Moreno restraining order hearing here, but here are some of the highlights:
- "He has told me he could make my son disappear anytime of the day."
- She told the court that a month or so before Aaden died, Tony pushed her off of a bed, which caused her to fracture her ankle.
- In April, Tony was allegedly watching Aaden and left him alone on a bed upstairs, and then left the house.
During a hearing on June 29 a judge denied the restraining order application, saying that Tony and Adrianne were acting like children, not adults, but that he didn't think there was a permanent threat of harm to Adrianne since she was living in a house full of people. He said they needed to figure it out through a custody battle.
Connecticut Chief Court Administrator Patrick L. Carroll released a statement expressing condolences to the baby's family and commented on the judge's decision:
"While it would be inappropriate for me to comment directly on Judge Pinkus’ ruling, I believe that it is representative of the difficult decisions that judges must make each and every day. These discretionary decisions are made after an assessment of the evidence that is presented and in accordance with applicable state law. Yet even with a deliberative process, it is impossible for judges to predict the future with certainty.'
A GoFundMe Page has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses, and in just 21 hours more than $15,000, the target amount, had been raised.
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) released on a statement on the case:
The Department shares with the family and the community a deep level of concern regarding the safety of the baby.
The Department received a report regarding the father on June 17 and conducted a complete safety assessment that found the father was no longer in the home as a result of a restraining order sought by mother the same day. The safety assessment determined that mother had moved the baby to the home of a relative and was taking all appropriate and necessary steps to protect the baby. Department staff saw the mother and child on three occasions between June 19 and June 26, and the father was not allowed access to the baby by the mother. Mother agreed to receive counseling services from a community agency and was fully cooperating with our efforts.
The Department is respectful of victims of domestic violence and strives to avoid subjecting the victims to consequences flowing from the actions of perpetrators. Accordingly, following a careful assessment that examines fully the safety of the child, the Department will not automatically seek to remove a child from a home where domestic violence is a concern if the custodial parent takes all required steps to protect the child from the non-custodial parent.
Currently, our staff is reaching out to the family of the baby to provide any assistance we can offer. In addition, we will examine our involvement with the family as is our normal protocol under such circumstances.