On 5 July 2015, 23-year-old Tony Moreno walked the two miles from his home with his 7-month-old baby Aaden Moreno to Arrigoni Bridge in Connecticut before throwing his baby son over the edge. Aaden Moreno dropped 90 feet into the Connecticut River below with no chance of surviving the fall. On 31 May 2017, Tony Moreno was given the maximum sentence of 70 years behind bars without the possibility of parole for his actions.
In the months before the murder, Tony Moreno was having relationship problems with 20-year-old Adrianne Oyola, problems which had escalated after she refused his marriage proposal. In what can only be described as a twisted decision to cause the ultimate pain and suffering to the mother of his child, Moreno sent her text messages while walking to the bridge that read “He’s dead. And soon I will be too”. He then called his mother, Denise Moreno, and told her to come to the bridge to collect the baby’s pushchair and his mobile phone which contained photos of little Aaden. When she asked him what was going on he told her, “Sorry. Just tell everyone I am sorry,” before hanging up the call. It was in those moments police believe, that Tony Moreno threw his little boy over the railings.
When his mother, brother and police arrived at the bridge they found Tony Moreno and begged him to come away from the railings. Moreno refused and jumped over the side in front of them dropping into the cold river below. The empty pushchair stood on the bridge with no sign of baby Aaden.
Tony Moreno was pulled out of the water within 30 minutes and taken to the hospital. It took two days to find the body of Aaden Moreno which was eventually found by a kayaker 14 miles downstream from the bridge. Tony Moreno confessed to hospital doctors that he had killed his son and again to a hospital psychiatrist while a police officer was present.
During his trial, his defence team put forward an argument that Tony Moreno did not intend to hurt his son and his fall from the bridge was a terrible accident. Suggesting the baby may have suffered from a muscle condition which made his little body jerk and twitch, Tony Moreno stood at the witness box holding a doll to demonstrate how 7-month-old Aaden Moreno slipped from his grasp.
Defence attorneys also requested that Moreno’s confessions be inadmissible and not presented to the jury due to his medical condition at the time and the constant presence of police officers, however, the judge disagreed and allowed testimony regarding his confessions to killing his son to be heard. The prosecution used the text messages to the baby’s mother and the phone call to his own mother to show Tony Moreno did intend to hurt his child and his motives were revenge against Adrienne Oyola.
Tony Moreno was convicted of murder and risk of injury to a child on 22 February 2017. At his sentencing this week he was told his conviction for murder means he will not be eligible for parole, making him 93 years old before he will be released from prison. The judge highlighted Moreno’s motives appeared to be, “a culmination of his ongoing hostility with the baby’s mother.” Adrianne Oyola said after the sentence, “Now Aaden can rest in peace knowing that justice is served”.
“You taunted his mother as you committed the act with text messages that can only be described as demonic. At any point in the two mile [walk to the bridge] you could have stopped and gone back. You wouldn’t be deterred from committing this heinous act.”
The act of killing your child as revenge against the child’s mother has featured in a number of other cases of filicide carried out by fathers. In this case, Tony Moreno has always claimed his intention was to kill himself and not his child, but the text messages to his ex-partner to taunt her and the communication with his mother right before the incident suggests otherwise.
In 2001 in Texas, father of two John Battaglia had a history of domestic abuse against his wife Mary Jean Pearle and was on probation for assaulting her when he shot 6-year-old Liberty Battaglia and 9-year-old Faith Battaglia while they were on the phone to their mother, ensuring she heard the shots. He was convicted of double murder and currently awaits execution on Texas death row after multiple stays of execution coming through at the last minute.
In November 2005, 33-year-old Gavin Hall drugged and suffocated his 3-year-old daughter Amelia Hall in Northampton, England in order to take revenge on his wife after he discovered she was having an affair. After murdering their daughter downstairs, he sent his wife who was sleeping upstairs a text message blaming her for what he had just done. He then killed the family’s two cats before trying to kill himself, planning for his wife to find the gruesome scene when she came downstairs in the morning. He survived the attempt on his own life and was found guilty of murder. Hall was sentenced to serve a minimum of 15 years in prison.
Innocent children being used as pawns in this way is a cruel and selfish act and, sadly, murder is being used more frequently as a weapon in feuds between parents. The murder of children is most often carried out as an act of revenge using the knowledge that the loss of a child and being blamed for that loss will cause pain and suffering for a lifetime. To kill your own child as a method to hurt your partner is unimaginable but to be left living knowing this is how and why your child died is a pain that cannot be described.