BEL AIR, MD – Authorities in Bel Air, Maryland, have arrested a woman for the murder of her 3-year-old son. The woman was identified as Gloria Hughes, a 37-year-old resident of Morganton, North Carolina. She is now facing charges of first-degree murder, in addition to charges of child abuse resulting in death.
The 3-year-old victim, Jason Garcia, was spotted by an off-duty Harford County Sheriff’s Deputy being held by Hughes in the middle of the street of the 400 block of Main Street on Sunday morning, the officials said. The lifeless toddler and Hughes were found near a Bel Air storage business, where investigators believe the child was killed. Bel Air Police Chief Charles Moore expressed the community’s grief over the incident, calling it heartbreaking.
Court documents that revealed the child’s father reported a custody dispute in North Carolina on Saturday. Further documents indicated the toddler had been admitted to and subsequently released from the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s emergency room the same night for swallowing acid.
Video footage from the location showed Hughes and the boy near the American Legion hours later. Chief Moore confirmed the significant physical evidence, including physical harm on the child that seemed to be inflicted intentionally.
The surveillance video owner told WJZ that a Harford County sheriff’s deputy was the first to encounter Hughes, who was pacing in the middle of the street with the lifeless toddler. Hughes was charged based on substantial evidence, including video evidence, and no additional suspects were named.
Prosecutors described the murder as “heinous and barbaric,” alleging that the video evidence showed Hughes repeatedly hitting her son. Chief Moore spoke of the “extensive facial and head trauma” the child endured, terming it as “horrible.” A judge has initiated an order to evaluate Hughes’ mental competency as investigations continue.