ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Police said Thursday that the mother of a 3-year-old boy found buried at a playground told investigators she suffocated him, had second thoughts and resuscitated him, then changed her mind and suffocated him again.
Police Chief Ray Schultz said Tiffany Toribio, 23, told officers that she and her son, Tyruss "Ty" Toribio, were in Alvarado Park before dawn on May 13 and that she suffocated him while he was asleep.
She told detectives she had second thoughts and performed CPR on the boy, reviving him, but again reconsidered and placed her hand over his nose and mouth until he suffocated, Schultz said. She said she waited a few minutes before burying him in the playground, the chief said.
Ty's body was found Friday by a mother who saw his black tennis shoe sticking out of the sand. Police released an artist's rendering of the boy's image on Tuesday, which led to tips about Toribio from family members and others, Schultz said.
Police picked up Toribio after she called them late Wednesday saying she had left home and was walking to the police station to turn herself in, the chief said. At first she denied being Tiffany Toribio, but officers found her identification and she acknowledged who she was, he said.
Neither the district attorney's office nor police knew if Toribio had an attorney, but she would have to have representation by her Friday arraignment.
Schultz called it "somber day" in Albuquerque.
"He was a very special child and that's what makes this case so hard for everybody within the Albuquerque Police Department that's worked on it for the last six days," he said.
Schultz described Toribio as a transient who was kicked out of her mother's home on May 7 because of the way she treated her son. A few days later she was kicked out of a friend's house for the same reason, he said.
Toribio had no history of substance or alcohol abuse and only a traffic citation on her record.
"What makes this story especially sad was when asked the reason why she took Ty's life, Tiffany said that she did not want him to grow up with no one caring about him the same way that she had grown up with no one caring about her," Schultz said.
Schultz said Toribio was being held at the Bernalillo County jail under close observation because she had attempted suicide. He did not provide details about the suicide attempt.
At the playground - filled now with flowers, plaques and candles - about a dozen people gathered, some part of the regular vigil held there since last week and others who came down after hearing of the arrest on the TV news.
"We named him 'Baby Angel' and it's important now that we know his real name," said Sarah Sandoval, who lives nearby. "Now, his mother will find out this baby has a lot of people who love him and will do anything for a child."