Around 6 p.m. last Friday a West St. Paul mother got an unsettling phone call. Her husband, Oscar Cruz, phoned her at work saying her six-year-old daughter had mistakenly drank his booze and was sick.
The mother of four left work to tend to her ill child. But the situation was worse than she knew.
According to a criminal complaint, Mom got home to find that two of her children, ages six and nine, had been drinking. Cruz stated that while sleeping on the couch, he accidentally gave the six-year-old -- who had "whip/welt type marks" on her arm -- the wrong cup. Given how sick the child was, Mom wasn't buying it.
The nine-year-old later said Cruz, their stepfather, had forced them to take shots with him. After the six-year-old came home from school with her shoes on the wrong feet, Cruz also whipped her with a vacuum cord, the nine-year-old said. Cruz and the mother have two younger children together.
Shortly after querying her sick child, the mother heard Cruz yelling at their four-year-old. After a thud and more crying, the child came into the living room with blood dripping down his face and cuts on his head. While cleaning him up she noticed bite marks and scratches on his body. She took the children to the emergency room.
While the mother spoke with West St. Paul police, the cops noticed the couple's one-year-old son had a chipped tooth and broken blood vessels in his eye. Cruz, 28, told the mother he had fallen off a bunk bed a day earlier. The six-year-old had visible bruises and was "vomiting, appeared disheveled, and was acting somewhat silly," according to the complaint.
The mother had previously seen other marks on the kids, which Cruz could not explain.
Cruz was arrested and is being held in Dakota County Jail on multiple charges, including third-degree assault, child endangerment, and malicious punishment of a child.
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