The body of a severely beaten unidentified child was found abandoned in the Miami Beach area on November 2, 1990. The boy was later determined to be Lazaro Figueroa, the youngest child of Ana Marie Cardona. Cardona was subsequently arrested in connection with the murder.
The circumstances surrounding the abuse and murder of Lazaro were revealed during Cardona’s trial. When Cardona’s well-off, drug-dealing boyfriend was murdered, he left her a $100,000 estate, which she squandered in a matter of months. Cardona had two children from him, the youngest being Lazaro. Cardona, penniless, left her children with friends and family, and they were subsequently taken by the social services. Eventually, the children were returned to their mother, and during this time, Cardona became romantically involved with Olivia Gonzalez-Mendoza. The two women hardly worked, and supported themselves, their children and their drug habits by shoplifting.
After the children were returned to her, Cardona began horrific and frequent abuse of Lazaro, as she blamed him for her fall from wealth. Lazaro was often tied to the bed, locked in a closet, or left in the bathtub with extremely cold or hot water. When his body was found, it was covered in bruises and bedsores and the child weighed only 18 pounds.
On Octover 30, 1990, Cardona split Lazaro’s head open with a baseball bat, and when the child would not stop screaming, she beat him to death. Cardona and Gonzalez-Mendoza dumped the body in a Miami Beach neighborhood, fled to Orlando and were eventually apprehended in St. Cloud.
Medical examiners testified that Lazaro was dying from the extreme abuse and neglect he suffered at the hands of his mother and her lover even before he was fatally beaten with the bat that day. Lazaro had endured numerous tortures prior to his death, suffering brain damage due to untreated meningitis, anemia, malnutrition and spinal cord damage.