• July 22, 2014

Grandfather faces charges in connection with toddler’s death

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Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013 4:30 am

TEMPLE — The grandfather of a 2-year-old boy from Temple who died in San Antonio on Nov. 16 was arrested in connection with the death.

Joel Soto, 51, of San Antonio, was charged with arson after his truck burned with his grandson, Jeremy Alonzo Soto, inside.

A homicide investigation is ongoing, San Antonio police reported.

The child and his two siblings were placed with their grandfather after a drug raid on their parents’ home in Temple.

Following Jeremy’s death, his two siblings were removed from Soto’s home, according to Child Protective Services.

The children were placed in their grandfather’s care after their mother, Angela Marie Soto, 28, was arrested by Temple police on drug possession charges in July, Temple police Cpl. Christopher Wilcox said.

Arson investigators are working closely with the San Antonio police on investigation, said Deborah Foster, San Antonio Fire Department spokeswoman.

The truck fire happened at 5200 Rogers Road in San Antonio, according to the arrest report.

A caller reported a truck was on fire and a small child was inside it.

The fire department arrived at the same time as a police officer, who walked by the truck and saw the passenger door was closed and the driver side door was open.

He said he couldn’t see clearly into the truck because of the flames, according to the police report.

The officer found a man standing about 40 feet from the truck who pointed out another man in a wooded area who was reportedly walking back and forth while talking to himself.

The man, who was identified as Joel Soto, reportedly said he’d been having problems with his carburetor and pulled over to try to fix it.

Soto said the engine caught fire while he was outside the truck, according to the report. He said, “The engine just blew up.”

He also said his grandson was in the truck. He told the officer he was upset because he didn’t know what he was going to tell his wife and the boy’s mother, but he wasn’t crying and wasn’t looking at the vehicle, according to the police report.

Soto said he didn’t try to get his grandson out of the truck before he ran to get help, the officer said.

Soto had some burned hair on the front of his face and looked to have smoke or dust on him, the officer told an evidence technician and arson investigator. The report stated Soto was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

After the fire was extinguished, an arson investigator saw what he believed to be the area where the fire originated — inside the truck, not in the engine area, the report said.

Autopsy results are pending, according to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, which means the case is an active investigation.

Because of the possible injuries to the child and the findings of the arson investigator, homicide detectives were called to the scene and took control of the investigation.

A rosary for Jeremy Soto will be recited Saturday at Scanio-Harper Funeral Home, followed by visitation until 2:30 p.m. Graveside services will follow at the Floca Memorial Pavilion at Hillcrest Cemetery.

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