Everything was ready for Christopher Valdez’s fourth birthday party on Friday: the cake and presents from family members who planned to congregate at the home of the boy’s grandparents in Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood.
But then Christopher’s grandfather, Tom Valdez, received a call at work from his son telling him to return home immediately.
When Valdez got there, he found that the home of his daughter, Christopher’s mother, which is located just across the alley from his home in the 5100 block of South Trumbull Avenue, had been cordoned off with yellow police tape. Valdez, 57, said that police told him Christopher had been beaten to death.
“I’m devastated,” said Valdez on Friday night. “I miss him very much.”
The boy turned four Friday.
An autopsy Saturday determined Christopher died of multiple blunt force injuries from child abuse and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.
He was pronounced dead at 3:10 p.m. Friday at Holy Cross Hospital, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Valdez said that his son and daughter-in-law had brought a birthday cake to his daughter’s home Friday afternoon, but that no one answered the door initially. They kept pounding on the door, Valdez said, because they suspected something was wrong.
When they finally got inside, they found Christopher’s body and called police, Valdez said.
“I’m still confused and hurt,” Valdez said. “My entire family is in shock.”
The child was unresponsive when police arrived and appeared to have possibly been punched, police said.
It appeared that he may have been dead for several hours before emergency crews found him, according to police.
No charges have been filed, said Police News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala. Police took Christopher’s mother and her boyfriend in for questioning Friday.
Valdez described Christopher as a cheerful and lovable child who loved Spiderman, baseball and his Tonka Truck.
“He also had this little rabbit that he would squeeze and it would sing a song,” Valdez said. “He would walk around with it all day.”
Christopher had three other siblings, Valdez said.
“His sister asked me plainly, ‘Is Christopher dead?’” Valdez said. “And I just said, ‘no.’”