HEALDSBURG, Calif. - The Healdsburg community continues to mourn a 4-year-old girl who police say died when her father drowned her in a church baptismal pool.
People kept coming through the doors of St. John the Baptist Church Healdsburg Wednesday with flowers, candles, stuffed animals and sadness for Maria Jose Ordaz Chavarria.
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Police say that Sunday night, her father drowned the 4-year-old in a baptismal pool. Hence the outpouring of support.
Carmine Romano, a funeral director, is donating his services and his time.
"I sleep at the funeral home and the baby is not by herself and that gives me peace of mind," Romano said.
At his arraignment Tuesday, 42-year-old Gerardo Ordaz appeared bewildered and grief-stricken. The court has ordered a medical examination. Family members said they never saw this coming.
"Maybe if we knew something like this there was going to happen we could have tried to help him out," said Nancy Mendoza.
Mendoza is a cousin of the accused man. She said there is a GoFundMe page for the family and the victim's mother, who does not work and still has four other children to support.
"She is devastated. She's heartbroken," Mendoza said.
Mendoza describes her cousin as a local day laborer. She says that last Sunday, Ordaz and his kids went for a walk to the church. Then, everything changed.
"Mostly they need prayers. The children lost a sister. The father is not with them and maybe will never be," Mendoza said.
Mendoza said, the family went shopping for Maria's burial dress. They are looking for something similar to the one in which she was baptized.
There is a GoFundMe page set up by the family to help with costs.