5-year-old girl's decaying body found in closet at apartment complex

Image 1 of 6

Police are investigating after a mother hid her child's decaying body in a closet at a northwest Houston apartment complex. 

Family members of the little girl, who has been identified as Sierra Patino, wanted to pay a visit. They came to the Quail Creek Apartments on Grow Lane and were overcome by a foul odor coming from one of the closets. When they opened the door, they found the young girl's corpse, and immediately called police.

Police say the girls mother, 27-year-old Priscilla Torres, admitted that her 5-year-old daughter died on August 27 after she said the child ingested chemicals. The woman never reported it.

In court Tuesday, Torres initially said Sierra drank a whole bottle of toilet bowl cleaner while taking a bath while she stepped away. Torres then changed her story, saying her boyfriend was giving the girl a bath while she was getting dinner ready. Torres says she walked in and saw chemical burns on the girl's body.

According to Torres' claims, this transpired on Friday, August 23. Sierra spent the weekend in her mother's care, because Torres was afraid of CPS taking her daughter away if she sought medical care. After several days of not being able to keep down food, and not being able to stand on her own, Sierra died on Tuesday, August 27. Torres wrapped her in blankets and kept her in the closet, not wanting to "let her go".

"No matter how the child died, whether it was accidental or an intentional death, you know for a body to be in a closet for several days it's just, it's pretty unthinkable," HPD Lieutenant Larry Crowson said. "We're not sure of the circumstances, we don't know if it's an accidental death or an intentional death. That will be part of the investigation."

Police confirmed Torres has been arrested for her role in the case.

Torres was charged with tampering with evidence- human corpse. The investigation is ongoing and she may possibly face additional charges.

The cause of death is not known, nor has the mother said why she didn't report the incident when it happened seven days ago.