Thursday, November 27, 2008

Father confesses to killing his 5-year-old son

'He told me that Giovanni was dead' (Boston Globe) Reporter Maria Sacchetti recounts Ernesto Gonzalez's jailhouse confession to her about murdering his son. (Produced by Jason Tuohey)

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MIDDLETON—Ernesto L. Gonzalez Jr. has spent the last three months in a jail cell here refusing to respond to the question that authorities believe only he can answer: What happened to his 5-year-old son, Giovanni, who vanished during a weekend visit with his father in August.

Today, he broke his silence in chilling fashion. During a jailhouse interview with a Globe reporter, Gonzalez confessed to stabbing his son to death and dismembering the small body in the bathtub of his Lynn apartment. He said he then placed his son's body parts into six plastic grocery bags and discarded them in three different trash bins around Lynn. He pedaled from one dumpster to the next on his bicycle.

"I know where he is," Gonzalez said in Spanish, his voice calm and his gaze flat. "My son isn't alive. He's dead."

Asked why he did it, Gonzalez said that it just "happened."

"I didn't want to kill my son," he said. "I don't know what happened in that moment." He said he loved his son and is "regretful."

The extraordinary confession was met with skepticism by authorities, who have yet to find evidence in the apartment that would corroborate Gonzalez's account. The interview followed months of reticence on the part of Gonzalez, who refused to cooperate with investigators, barely spoke during brief court hearings on a child endangerment charge, and declined the tearful overtures from Giovanni's mother to please reveal the whereabouts of her only son.

The disappearance of the ebullient and occasionally rambunctious boy triggered a massive search by air, water and land, from Lynn and Lawrence to Florida and Puerto Rico. Authorities and his mother, Daisy Colon, who lived with her son in East Boston, appealed for help on television, on a donated billboard, and on the Internet. Law enforcement officials in Essex County had described the case as one of the most frustrating of their careers.

This evening, Colon could not be reached for comment.

The Globe reporter arrived at the jailhouse unannounced today and asked guards to see whether Gonzalez would be willing to speak. About 20 minutes later, the reporter was led through security checkpoints to a time-worn visitation room. Gonzalez, wearing a bright orange prison-issue jumpsuit, appeared on the other side of a Plexiglas partition.

The reporter explained who she was and twice displayed her newspaper identification. The interview was then conducted in English and Spanish through a telephone hookup. He spoke for half an hour, until authorities ended the interview because the time allotment was up. The Globe was not allowed to tape record the interview as part of jail policy.

The Globe notified the Essex County District Attorney's office of Gonzalez's remarks shortly after the interview. His confession, while potentially serving as a break in the case, has left authorities baffled and raised questions about whether Gonzalez is even telling the truth. Authorities, up to now, have found no physical evidence of violence committed against Giovanni inside the apartment.

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