MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A South Florida man sought in the disappearance of a newborn baby has been found dead in the Tampa Bay area, but the child remains missing, authorities said.
Ernesto Caballeiro, 49, was found dead Wednesday in Pasco County, one day after three women were found shot to death inside a southwest Miami-Dade County home.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement had issued an Amber Alert for Andrew Caballeiro, who is 1 week old, after he was reported missing from the home on Southwest 187th Avenue.
Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputies said Caballeiro was found dead in a rural area of Blanton, about 40 miles north of Tampa, near Interstate 75.
“However, there is no sign of the child,” a sheriff’s spokeswoman said in a statement.
Sheriff Chris Nocco said deputies discovered Caballeiro’s body in a wooded area. He appeared to have died of a single gunshot wound from a rifle.
Nocco said bloodhounds assisted in the search, but “there was no indication that the child was in the area.” He said a pacifier was found in Caballeiro’s abandoned van.
The sheriff said investigators are questioning a witness.
“But the one individual told us that he saw a blonde woman in the truck,” Nocco said. “And I sit here and pray to God that that is true and that she has the baby.”
Nocco also said investigators were told that there should have been a pickaxe in the vehicle.
“We have no indication that there’s a pickaxe anywhere where we are searching,” he said.
Miami-Dade police Detective Lee Cowart said Caballeiro was related to one or all three of the victims found in the home.
Multiple people have told Local 10 News that the baby’s mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are the victims.
Police identified the victims as mother Arlety Garcia Valdes, 40, grandmother Isabela Valdes, 60, and great-grandmother Lina Gonzalez, 84.
Family member Melchor Izquierdo said Caballeiro spared the life of Andrew’s 9-year-old sister.
“So we are lucky in that respect, and we’re lucky that he didn’t come to the full house where all the other members of the family were,” Izquierdo said.
Family members said Caballeiro was a troubled man who had a strained relationship with his son’s mother.
“All we care about is that little Andrew is OK,” Nocco said. “That’s all we care about.”
Said Izquierdo: “I don’t expect anything good from him, I don’t expect any kind of generosity from him, including with his own son. You’re dealing with a very sick, probably very crazy individual."
The family has made a plea to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in an attempt to get a special visa for the victims’ son, brother and uncle, so he can leave Cuba and come to Miami for the three funeral services.
They have also set up a GoFundMe page for anyone who wants to help the family pay for funeral costs.