Healdsburg dad drowned daughter in baptismal pool, police say

HEALDSBURG (KTVU and BCN) - A Healdsburg father has been arrested in connection with the death of his 4-year-old daughter, authorities said Monday.

Gerardo Mendoza Ordaz, 42, of Healdsburg, was taken into custody and was being held Monday on suspicion of homicide. Police said they believe the father intentionally drowned the girl in a baptismal pool at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, located in the 200 block of Matheson Street in Healdsburg.

Police have identified the girl as Maria Jose Ordaz-Chavarria. According to Healdsburg Police, the father was carrying his unresponsive daughter in the back lot of the police station Sunday around 8:30 p.m. He was yelling, "help," and "police."

Police say the father was naked, while the daughter was clothed. Another child, a 9-year-old boy was also there. He was partially clothed.

The girl was taken to the hospital where she later died.

In a written statement, church officials declined to comment about the case.

"Sunday night there was tragedy in the church; a little girl lost her life," said Sean Rodgers, a pastor at the church. "When police finish the investigation we will know more. In the meantime, please pray for the family, and the parish community."

Officers said Ordaz was apparently with his daughter and his son at St. John's Church just before he went to the police station. Police said he gave his statement to investigators in Spanish.

An autopsy has been scheduled.

A formal investigation has not yet been completed. No further information was immediately available.