The 3-year-old boy whose body was found in a deep freezer at a Barona Reservation home suffocated to death after he was beaten, taped up and put into a closet by his mother and her boyfriend, according to a medical examiner’s report.
Eleven days before his body was found, toddler Roland Sandoval became the target of a violent outburst on Jan. 5, 2015. Angry with the boy, his mother’s boyfriend, 32-year-old Julio Monggiotti, punched and kicked Roland and instructed his mother, Elaina Rose Welch, to do the same, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s investigation.
Monggiotti ordered Welch to get some tape, and the two used blue painter’s tape to secure the boy’s forearms to his thighs, as well as tape his eyes and mouth shut, the autopsy says. The couple then covered the boy in blankets and placed him in his room. After reportedly bringing Roland food and water, they eventually let him out.
But the next day, the beating and taping repeated. After a few hours, Monggiotti and Welch decided to make a trip to the store, but they did not want to leave Roland in his bedroom.
Instead, they wrapped him in a sheet, put him in the master bedroom closet and left to go shopping, the report says. They returned later that day to find Roland not breathing.
Unable to revive the boy, the couple washed Roland’s body in bleach and wrapped him in a sheet; they placed him in the laundry room’s deep freezer and locked it with a zip tie, according to the autopsy.
Law enforcement knew nothing about the homicide until 10 days later, when they got a call on Jan. 16 about an assault with a deadly weapon at Welch’s address. Monggiotti, holding an ax, met Barona Security officers at the home’s front yard. When ordered to, Monggiotti dropped the weapon and went inside to get Welch.
Officers soon heard a gunshot. As they waited for sheriff’s deputies to arrive, officers saw Welch come out of the home with a shotgun, walk off the property and continue down the road.
As officers approached her and told her to release the gun, Welch “dropped the shotgun and then informed security officers that her boyfriend killed [Roland], put him in the deep freezer and he forced her to help him,” according to the report. Welch was taken into custody.
Hours later, after detectives obtained a search warrant, they found Monggiotti dead on the floor. Responding paramedics were instructed to search the deep freezer, but they did not find anything when they opened the lid.
However, when they removed some food, they found Roland’s body wrapped in a sheet. The medical examiner determined he died from asphyxia, and multiple blunt force injuries to his head and body were contributing factors. His manner of death was a homicide.
While initially booked into jail in this case, Welch was later released when the District Attorney’s office declined to file charges against her.