Melissa Centeno and Sergio Luis Ortiz charged with child abuse after 4-year-old dies

PHOENIX - A Phoenix woman and her boyfriend have been arrested on child abuse charges after a 4-year-old girl died in Phoenix.

The mother of the little girl, 19-year-old Melissa Centeno, faces one count of child abuse with intent and one count of negligent child abuse.

Centeno's boyfriend, 22-year-old Sergio Luis Ortiz, faces one count of negligent child abuse.

According to court documents, police responded to a call of a child not breathing at an apartment complex near Indian School Road and 71st Avenue around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Fire paramedics told officers the girl had suspicious bruising on several parts of her body.

Ortiz reportedly told police the 4-year-old had fallen off the sofa the night before and fell in the bathroom during bath time.

The girl was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced deceased.

Detectives determined that Friday night Centeno allegedly struck the 4-year-old in the abdomen, causing the girl to have abdominal pain and vomiting.

Centeno reportedly told police that she sometimes had Ortiz get "heavy handed" when disciplining the child.

The abuse apparently had gone on over the past six months. Centeno said she and Ortiz hit the victim frequently.

Centeno told police she was afraid to get help for the girl for fear the bruising would be discovered.

She had called the girl's pediatrician who told Centeno to take her to the emergency room, but Centeno said she only called 911 when the child stopped breathing.

According to court documents, Centeno could face a murder charge following an autopsy on the child.

Another child living in the home is in the custody of Child Protective Services.

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