Man charged with murder for allegedly drowning daughter in baptismal pool

HEALDSBURG, CA (AP) – Authorities say a Northern California man has been charged with murder in connection with the drowning of his 4-year-old daughter in a baptismal pool at a church last weekend.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports 42-year-old Gerardo Mendoza Ordaz appeared in Sonoma County court Tuesday afternoon and was formally charged with murder and felony child abuse involving the death at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

Judge Arthur Wick ordered a psychologist to evaluate the mental state of Ordaz after his lawyer raised doubts about the man’s competency.

Ordaz is scheduled to return to court Monday where Wick will decide if he is fit for further court proceedings. Police have not released a motive in the death of Maria Jose Ordaz-Chavarria.

On Sunday night, Ordaz arrived at the police station, carrying his lifeless daughter. His young son was with them and dressed only in shorts. Ordaz was naked, police said.

Ordaz is a laborer and farmworker who took work where he could. The girl’s mother is unemployed and pregnant, caring for three children, 9, 12, and 14, and staying with extended family in the area.

Ordaz remains jailed without bail. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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