Autopsy report shows 3-year-old boy died of asphyxiation in deep freeze

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A newly released autopsy Tuesday showed that the cause of death of a toddler, whose body was found in a deep freezer, was homicide by asphyxiation.

Authorities discovered 3-year-old Roland Meza Sandoval dead at the house in the 1500 block of Quincy Canyon Road after there were reports of shots fired there on Jan. 16.

According to the county Medical Examiner’s Officer, Tribal police arrived at the home to find Julio Ricardo Monggiotti, 32, the boyfriend of Roland’s mother, holding an ax and swinging it back and forth, but he dropped it when officers told him to.

When the officers asked for Roland’s mother, Elaina Rose Welch, Monggiotti went inside the home and immediately after, a gunshot sounded from within the house.

Welch left the house holding the shotgun. The officers approached her and told her to drop the weapon. She did so, then told them that her boyfriend had killed her son and put him in a freezer in a laundry room adjacent to her garage.

About 2 p.m., a SWAT team went inside and found Monggiotti dead of a gunshot wound to the torso.

Authorities then searched the home, eventually finding the child in the freezer, wrapped in a sheet and covered by frozen food items. The dead child was unclothed and “frozen solid,” the report states.

Welch was jailed on suspicion of killing her son and Monggiotti, but was released six days later pending further investigation.

“The case remains an open investigation and under review,” said Steve Walker, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office.

The autopsy report showed that a series of abusive episodes led to Roland’s death.

Postmortem exams determined that the boy succumbed to suffocation. Listed in the autopsy report as contributing causes to his death were “multiple blunt-force injuries.”

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