The following comes from a November 21 Press Democrat article by Randi Rossman and Julie Johnson:
A Healdsburg father suspected of drowning his 4-year-old daughter in the baptismal pool of a downtown church was arrested hours after he carried her unresponsive body to the nearby police department, police officials said Monday.
Gerardo Mendoza Ordaz, 42, stood naked in the back parking lot of the police station Sunday night and cried out — calling for “help” and “police” — as he held his daughter, who was clothed, shoeless and soaking wet, said police officials.
Another child, a 9-year-old son who wore shorts but no shirt, was with his father and sister, police said.
The girl was rushed to a hospital, but she did not survive. The boy did not appear to be injured, according to police.
Investigators suspect Ordaz brought his children into the unlocked sanctuary of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church at East and Matheson streets. How long they were there wasn’t clear but at 8:30 p.m. they were outside the nearby Center Street police station seeking help.
The church was routinely left unlocked for the public on Sundays into the night and police believe the family were the only ones inside, Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Burke said.
With his son as the only witness, Ordaz submerged his daughter in the one- to two-feet-deep baptismal pool in the sanctuary, estimated to be about eight feet wide and 10 feet long, said Lt. Matt Jenkins, who was overseeing the investigation.
“We do believe she was drowned intentionally,” Burke said at a press conference Monday afternoon.
Ordaz and his wife had four children, including the girl and her 9-year-old brother, and the family lives just outside city limits, Burke said.