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Mom, boyfriend charged in death of boy found dead on his birthday

Christopher MarroquValdez mother Crystal Valdez last Christmas. Chicago Sun-Times

Christopher Marroquin Valdez and mother Crystal Valdez, last Christmas. Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: December 29, 2011 8:09AM

A Cook County judge spared Southwest Side mom Crystal Valdez jail when he convicted her of battering her 3-year-old son last month.

Free to celebrate little Christopher’s fourth birthday on Friday, Valdez did something else instead, prosecutors alleged.

She covered up his murder, they said.

Two days after horrified relatives discovered the toddler’s body wrapped in a comforter, his bruises disguised with makeup concealer, Valdez’s live-in boyfriend was charged Sunday with killing the boy. Valdez, 28, helped her lover Cesar Ruiz, 34, conceal the first-degree murder at their home on the 5100 block of South Trumbull, according to the charges announced by police.

Family members want to know why Christopher was allowed to stay with his mother and Ruiz following her conviction Oct. 21 for domestic battery.

“I want justice for my nephew,” said Joe Valdez, Christopher’s uncle, who, with his wife, Katrine, found Christopher’s body and called police to his sister’s home Friday.

Accused of a domestic battery of the child in July, Crystal Valdez was sentenced to parenting classes and given a conditional discharge last month, court records show. An Illinois Department of Children and Family Services investigation in August did not substantiate allegations of abuse against her but did find that she had neglected her child, DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said.

Records in the case were not accessible over the weekend, Marlowe said, declining to comment further on the specifics but adding that it was theoretically possible for someone to be criminally convicted of battering a child while being cleared of abuse by social services.

Although it was Christopher’s birthday Friday, his aunt Katrine said the boy’s mother and boyfriend had not planned a celebration.

Instead, she said, she and her husband got a call from a neighbor and relative of Ruiz who said the boy had shown up at her home on Thanksgiving with a black eye.

The couple went to the boy’s home to investigate, but no one would answer the door, she said. When her husband attempted to open a first floor window, Crystal came to the door but tried to stop them from coming inside, she added. Crystal told them her kids were with her boyfriend’s grandparents, Katrine Valdez said.

But Katrine Valdez forced her way in, and they saw Crystal’s 5-year-old daughter, Christine, lying near a rolled-up comforter. The girl came over and greeted her aunt and uncle.

“The house was in disarray,” Katrine Valdez said. “It was as if she was packing to leave the apartment. ... They were ready to leave.”

Crystal Valdez then tried to stop her from entering the bedroom where Christine had been. Katrine Valdez said she pulled back the comforter and saw Christopher’s badly bruised body.

“She pointed to the boyfriend and said that it was him,” Katrine Valdez said. “The boyfriend pointed out that Crystal was involved.”

Katrine Valdez said her “husband got physical with” the boyfriend, then broke away and called 911.

Paramedics came and tried to revive the boy but were unsuccessful. His death was later ruled a child abuse homicide by blunt force trauma by the Cook County Medical Examiner.

“He was completely beaten up from head to toe,” Katrine Valdez said.

Two older children, ages 10 and 11, are in the custody of their grandparents, relatives said.

The children’s father, who asked not to be named, said he was not closely involved with the family anymore.

“Me and her really didn’t have that great communication because she was mad, kind of always mad and had a bad attitude,” said the father.

Tom Valdez, Crystal’s father who on Friday declared his daughter “innocent of whatever happened there,” would not comment when contacted Saturday night.

“As a family, we are all in disbelief,” Katrine Valdez said.

She said Crystal Valdez “was under a lot of stress” as an “unemployed single mom,” and called Ruiz “anti-social and violent.” Tom Valdez said Friday the boyfriend “has created a lot of problems.”

Family members do not know why Christopher was singled out for abuse, they said.

“It’s a question we are all asking ourselves,” Katrine Valdez said. “He was an active child. He was a normal child.” He liked Spider-Man and “loved balls. He had a collection of balls. Soccer, baseball, footballs, beach balls.”

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