De Soto woman accused of keeping son in attic faces attempted second-degree murder charge

Specialist says boy was 24 hours from death

Rachel Perez, 26, of De Soto, is facing charges of child abuse and aggravated child endangerment after Johnson County sheriff's deputies found her malnourished, 6 year-old son confined in the attic of her home on the 8200 block of Center Drive.

? A woman accused of locking her young son in the attic of her De Soto home will stand trial on charges of child abuse and attempted second-degree murder.

On Tuesday, Johnson County District Judge Peter Ruddick ordered Rachel Perez, 27, to also stand trial on a third charge, aggravated child endangerment.

Perez was charged last August after Johnson County sheriff’s deputies discovered her then 6-year-old son confined to the attic. Prosecutors said the 20-pound boy, who has Down syndrome, was severely malnourished and covered in fecal matter.

Dr. Lisa Spector, a specialist in child abuse cases, was among doctors who cared for the boy when he arrived at Children’s Mercy Hospital on Aug. 17.

“Given the condition (the child) was in when he was brought to the hospital, he was nonambulatory and had little to no muscle tissue remaining. I don’t think he would have lived another 24 hours,” Spector testified on Tuesday.

Spector also said it would have taken weeks to months of improper nourishment for a child to reach that state of malnourishment. She reported that the boy is recovering well.

In video interviews that were played in court, the boy’s sisters, ages 8 and 5, indicate the boy was confined, off and on, for several months, if not years.

The boy’s younger sister said her brother had been in the attic for two years. She also said Perez often left all three children home alone for hours at a time, while she went out with friends or visited her boyfriend.

“My mom stopped giving [my brother] food a long time ago but I don’t know why,” the girl said. “He would just cry and cry and I felt sad for him.”

The other sister said her brother’s cries were one reason their mother left the boy home alone and in the attic.

“She said he was too annoying and he kept crying and screaming,” she said. “So she left him in the house when we would go out, she kept him away from people.”

Perez’s boyfriend, Jose Acosta, said he had only seen the boy a handful of times.

“I’ve known Rachel about a year and I’ve regularly spent time with [her daughters] but I’ve only seen [her son] maybe two or three times,” Acosta testified. “She always told me he was with his father or other relatives.”

Perez will return to court March 18 for arraignment.