LINCOLN CITY, Ore. – Investigators say the man who killed a toddler in 2002 remains on the loose.
On Dec. 21, 2002, authorities said 14-month-old Israel Hernandez was found dead inside a Lincoln City trailer home. Retired Lincoln City Police Officer Frank Harris said someone stomped on Israel with a boot, breaking his back and tearing open his heart.
Harris also said he believed the prosecutors botched the case, letting the suspect walk free.
“There’s really no reason for this to go on like this,” Harris said. “This should have been prosecuted years ago.”
FOX 12 has learned that in October 2005, a grand jury charged Gerardo Vera-Garcia, 31, the mother’s boyfriend, with aggravated murder and murder by abuse. FOX 12 also learned that Vera-Garcia was held in federal prison on an immigration violation shortly after Hernandez’s death. In July 2003, he was set free.
Lincoln County District Attorney, Bernice Barnett, said her office didn’t have the evidence necessary to charge Vera-Garcia until last fall. “We couldn’t tell who did it because there were multiple adults in the house,” Barnett told FOX 12. Prosecutors say the FBI is also on the case.
Gerardo Vera-Garcia may be going by the names Jaime or Hedda and could be living in Mexico. Anyone with information on Vera-Garcia is urged to contact the Lincoln City Police Department.