OAKMONT, Pa. — Dozens of people gathered in Oakmont Sunday for a vigil to celebrate the life of a 3-year-old girl who died after alleged abuse by three family members, including her father.
Bella Seachrist died on June 9 after first responders said they found her wet, bruised and unresponsive in a bathtub. First responders performed lifesaving measures and took the child to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The girl’s father, Jose Eduardo Salazar-Ortiz Sr., 29, and the child’s stepmother, Laura Michelle Ramirez, 27, were arrested on June 24. Ramirez’s sister, Alexis Herrera, 20, turned herself in to police the next morning. Police said Seachrist died from starvation and neglect in the hands of all three of them.
During Sunday’s vigil, Seachrist’s aunt said they want to raise awareness so a horrific death like that never happens again.
“Bella was amazing, she was my baby,” Kaylyn Gent said. “Her and my son were best friends. We want justice to be served. We want them to understand our pain and know why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Seachrist’s family spoke out in the hopes they can save the lives of other innocent children like her.
“Report it and have it taken care of as soon as possible, so that not only people are grieving but the families that may lose a kid,” said Gent.
According to a release from Allegheny County police, detectives determined the child endured prolonged physical and mental abuse.
Police said they have evidence the child was beaten almost daily, usually for wetting her pull-up diapers. She was punched in the head and sometimes tied to a staircase where she was left alone for hours, according to police paperwork.
Herrera and Ramirez exchanged photos and texts of the child, bound and left alone in a closet for hours, police said.
Salazar-Ortiz Sr. and Ramierz were arraigned at the Allegheny County Jail. They are being held without bond. Herrera is also in jail awaiting arraignment.
All three are charged with criminal homicide, criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault of a child, aggravated indecent assault of a child and endangering the welfare of a child.
Herrera and Ramirez have additional charges of unlawful restrain and false imprisonment.
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