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Godmother and husband charged for death of 4-year-old child found buried in Cleveland

Posted at 3:35 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 17:52:36-05

CLEVELAND — The godmother of a 4-year-old boy whose skeletal remains were found buried behind a vacant home in Cleveland’s Puritas-Longmead neighborhood has been indicted on murder charges along with the woman's husband.

Joanne Vega, 31, has been indicted on charges of murder, permitting child abuse, felonious assault, endangering children, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and kidnapping, according to court documents.

Vega’s husband, Romaine Tolbert, 36, was indicted on the same charges, according to court documents.

On Sept. 20, 2017, landscapers working in the 12900 block of Longmead Avenue found the boy's remains in the backyard of an abandoned home. Investigators said that it appeared the remains had been there for several months.

After the child was found, authorities released a sketch in hopes that someone knew who he was.

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The boy’s mother, who was incarcerated at the time, saw the sketch and alerted police.

The boy was positively identified as 4-year-old Eliazar Ruiz. His death was ruled a homicide.

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According to authorities, the boy’s mother left the child in Vega’s custody when she went to jail in July 2016. In June 2017, the boy was reported missing.

It’s still unclear what led up to the boy’s death.

Vega and Tolbert are scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 29.