The South Florida father accused of severely beating his adopted son and dousing him with chemicals pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and aggravated child abuse charges Friday.
Jorge Barahona finally appeared in a Palm Beach County courthouse this morning, looking disheveled and incoherent as his attorney entered the plea for him.
Officials with the Department of Children and Families said Barahona's son Victor, the victim in the attack, is still in critical condition Friday and is receiving intensive treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Burn Center.
The 53-year-old didn't appear at a Thursday hearing on the abuse charge after he reportedly tried to harm himself in his jail cell, then refused to go to court.
He had been given $1 million bail, but was ordered held without bail when the attempted murder charge was added.
And Miami-Dade Police, according to a well-placed law enforcement source, executed a search warrant on Barahona’s home in West Miami-Dade late Thursday night.
Barahona has yet to charged with any crime related to the death of Victor's 10-year-old twin sister, Nubia, whose body was found in a plastic bag in the back of his truck on the shoulder of I-95 Monday morning.
A Road Ranger found Barahona unresponsive on the ground outside his truck with Victor in the center seat of the truck next to a five gallon gas tank.
The boy was in respiratory distress and was trembling, and his clothing was soaked with an unknown chemical. Barahona and Victor were rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment for exposure and burns from the chemicals.
Hours later, as workers attempted to decontaminate the truck, they discovered Nubia's body in the bag in the back.
Barahona later told police he was distraught over the death of Nubia and was trying to kill himself.
While Barahona is in a Palm Beach County jail, his wife, Carmen, has not yet been charged with any crime. But officials with the Florida Department of Children and Families said she lied to an investigator as they tried to determine whether their four adopted children were safe. If true, that may’ve precluded DCF investigators not only from protecting the adopted twins but would indicate Carmen Barahona was complicit to some degree.
The couple's two other adopted children were placed in a foster home Wednesday.
A community, a state, and a nation are asking how this could have happened. On Thursday, for the first time, the newly installed Secretary of DCF flew to Miami to address an aggressive room full of reporters.
"Sometimes you cannot prevent an evil person from doing evil things," said Secretary David Wilkins, who ordered a complete review of what lead to this horrific case. "I want to know exactly what happened and in what sequence, what information we had, at what time. And were the decision making processes made at the time based on that information."
DCF described the timeline of events of the Barahona investigation for the first time Thursday:
* Thursday, February 10th - DCF gets a call on their hotline. An investigator immediately visits their home. But no one answers the door.
* Friday, February 11th - An investigator interviews the mother. She says she was separated from her husband. And says the twins are with Jorge Barahona.
* Saturday, February 12th - A DCF investigator tries to reach Barahona but could not.
* Sunday, February 13th - A DCF investigator makes another attempt but turns up nothing.
* Monday, February 14th. DCF contacts police. But authorities make the gruesome discovery.
The Miami Herald reported that authorities were given clues well before the February 10th call, including a June house visit in which another of Barahona’s young children made two attempts to talk to the DCF agent. But Carmen Barahona shooed him away and said he was mildly autistic with “nothing important to say.”
A therapist’s information was released in court showing another of the Barahona’s children wanted to break her piggybank to “rescue” her adopted twin brother and sister who she said were being held in a bathtub with a curtain secured around it.
"I think we all feel responsible,” said Secretary Wilkins. “I think the community feels responsible. We have an obligation to help the kids who need help. And so I think that's what hurts us all. That's why it's a very emotional time for all of us."