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Woman took nephew, 3, from home without permission to Lake Michigan before pushing him into water

CBS Chicago 9/22/2022 Tara Molina

CHICAGO (CBS) – The woman charged with pushing her 3-year-old nephew into Lake Michigan near Navy Pier had taken the child from his home unbeknownst to the rest of their family, prosecutors alleged.

The woman, Victoria Moreno, 34, of Des Plaines, is facing charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery of a child. Police said Moreno pushed the boy, Josiah Brown, into the water Monday afternoon and made no attempt to rescue him. Prosecutors called her actions premeditated.

Josiah Brown, the 3-year-old boy who was pushed into Lake Michigan on Monday, was still hospitalized as of Wednesday with several serious injuries. Cook County prosecutors said in court he is not expected to survive. Facebook © Provided by CBS Chicago Josiah Brown, the 3-year-old boy who was pushed into Lake Michigan on Monday, was still hospitalized as of Wednesday with several serious injuries. Cook County prosecutors said in court he is not expected to survive. Facebook

Josiah is on a ventilator at Lurie Children's Hospital. He has a swollen brain, bleeding in his lungs and went into cardiac arrest multiple times. A Cook County Assistant State's Attorney told a judge during a court hearing on Wednesday the boy is unlikely to survive, according to prosecutors.

Child pushed into Lake Michigan remains in critical condition 01:22 © Provided by CBS Chicago Child pushed into Lake Michigan remains in critical condition 01:22

Prosecutors said Josiah was at the family's Des Plaines home on Monday afternoon where he lives with his grandmother and another aunt. Moreno allegedly stole keys to the family's truck and took Josiah without telling the other family members.

Another family member became alarmed when she noticed Moreno and the child were gone. Moreno was not allowed to drive because of medication she's on for mental health issues.

Boy, 3, pushed into Lake Michigan by aunt still hospitalized with life-threatening injuries 02:53 © Provided by CBS Chicago Boy, 3, pushed into Lake Michigan by aunt still hospitalized with life-threatening injuries 02:53

The family was especially worried because last week, Moreno had taken three children living at the family home to Navy Pier also without permission. The oldest child, an 11-year-old, called other family members for help and told them their location.

During the chain of events Monday, prosecutors said Moreno drove into Chicago and attempted to enter the Shedd Aquarium with Josiah, but could not because she only had cash.

Shortly after noon, she parked at Navy Pier and entered a McDonald's to order food, getting a Happy Meal for Josiah. 

Moreno eventually took the boy to the pier, where chains are located on posts to keep people away from the water.

Aunt had taken boy, 3, to Navy Pier without permission 03:17 © Provided by CBS Chicago Aunt had taken boy, 3, to Navy Pier without permission 03:17

The boy crawled under the chains and got to the edge of the platform. When no one was present, Moreno let the boy crawl towards the edge of the pier. She climbed over the chains, straddled him, and then pushed him into the lake, prosecutors alleged.

Moreno sat and stared into the water as the child was drowning, prosecutors alleged. All the events were caught on surveillance cameras.

Two people heard the child hit the water and saw Moreno crouching by the platform. They asked what happened to the boy and she said nothing, but later claimed she did not know the boy.

The two witnesses called police and got a life ring. But several minutes after the boy was pushed, he sunk under the water.

One witness, Ashton King, was at the pier and saw the boy in the water.

"The red flags were there," King said. "She was acting very weird. I did end up telling the officer, I said, 'Listen ... she was the only one here when we got here. She's just been acting off, weird. I just don't know if she's off. Something is not right.'"

Moreno did not ask for help and pretended to not know the child when questioned by police, prosecutors said.

The boy was retrieved by Chicago Fire Department personnel at the bottom of the lake about 30 minutes after he fell in.

He is still hospitalized with multiple critical injuries. He is on a ventilator and requires cardiac support. Prosecutors said it's unlikely he survives.

There is a chance Moreno faces additional charges if the boy dies, prosecutors added.

While hospitalized, Josiah's dad publicly shared his battle with a heart condition through a video blog – where it was evident that love for his son was keeping him going.

Moreno was held without bail. She has no prior arrest record. The judge ordered Moreno to have no contact with the family.

The family chose not to speak or share a statement with CBS 2.

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