Saturday, 2:15 PM
Father of missing Lynn boy pleads not guilty
Ernesto Gonzalez, Jr., and his son, Giovanni, in an undated photograph distributed by State Police.
By John R. Ellement and Maria Cramer, Globe Staff
SALEM -- Ernesto L. Gonzalez Jr. pleaded not guilty and did not make eye contact with the mother of his 5-year-old son this morning as he faced charges of parental kidnapping and misleading police in Essex Superior Court.
Shackled at the wrists and ankles, Gonzalez said little during the brief proceeding. No new details emerged about the whereabouts of his son, Giovanni, who has been missing since August.
The case captured nationwide attention when Gonzalez confessed last month to a Globe reporter that he had killed his son in his Lynn apartment. Authorities have expressed skepticism about the jailhouse confession.
The Essex District Attorney's office issued an eight-paragraph statement on Wednesday saying that Gonzalez, 36, had been indicted in the ongoing probe into his son's disappearance. It did not say why Gonzalez was not being charged with murder or why Gonzalez is accused of kidnapping the boy and misleading investigators. Gonzalez will continue to be held without bond at the Essex County Jail.
This morning, the boy's mother, Daisy Colón, declined to speak to reporters at the hearing.
Giovanni has been missing since Aug. 17, when Colón went to pick him up at his father's home after a weekend visit and found the boy was not there.
A day later, Gonzalez, a former meatpacker, was charged with child endangerment. For three months, he sat in jail, refusing to tell authorities what he knew about his son's disappearance. At first, he even denied seeing his son that weekend.
But last month, he told the reporter that Giovanni had been misbehaving during the visit, spitting and throwing bottles. On Sunday morning, the day Colón was scheduled to pick him up, Giovanni began screaming in front of the refrigerator, Gonzalez said. That is when Gonzalez said he picked up a red-handled knife and stabbed Giovanni to death.
Then, he said, he dismembered the boy in a bathtub and placed the remains in six bags, which he then discarded in trash containers at three sites in Lynn.
"It happened," Gonzalez said during the interview. "I didn't want to do it."
A senior law enforcement official has said, however, that police have not found evidence that would substantiate Gonzalez's statements.
Gonzalez could face a maximum of 10 years in state prison if convicted of misleading police and a maximum of one year in a county House of Correction for parental kidnapping.
Misleading police carries a longer sentence because it is considered more "egregious," said J. Soffiyah Elijah, deputy director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School.
"Parental kidnapping is not considered to be as serious because there are mitigating circumstances," she said. "As a parent, you have some rights as it regards your child."
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