SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office is investigating after a missing South Sacramento man's infant was found dead behind a mortuary in Southern California.
The child, identified as 8-month-old Alexia Rose Echeverria, was found by an employee around 10 a.m. Monday in an upright car seat, covered by a blanket, a detective told FOX40's sister station KTLA.
Alexia was her mother’s whole world.
“She was so perfect,” said Karla Alvarado. “She was already calling me mama. She was clapping. I was trying to teach her how to crawl.”
Now, instead of planning her daughter’s first birthday party, Alvarado is planning her funeral.
“I just can’t believe that he would just leave her there,” Alvarado told FOX40. “She wasn’t trash, she wasn’t a doll. She was my little girl.”
The baby’s father, 22-year-old Alexander Echeverria, is a person of interest in the case. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office says family members reported him missing Monday and he was believed to be traveling with his daughter.
He is considered at-risk due to suicidal statements he made to his family members.
“Sunday morning, he dropped me off at work at 11 a.m. and then an hour later we FaceTimed. That’s the last time I saw her, on video chat,” Alvarado said.
He told her he was going to Bakersfield with the baby and that he’d be back home in Sacramento Monday morning. He never showed up.
“He contacted his brother yesterday, I believe. He told him that he was playing with her, throwing her up (in the air), and he slipped and she fell, and she wasn’t waking up,” Alvarado said. “He said he got scared and he drove to the hospital but he never went in because he thought nobody was going to believe him that it was an accident.”
Investigators have not yet determined a cause of death or whether it was an accident.
Detectives think Echeverria is driving a gray, 2014 Volkswagen Jetta with a California license plate of "7FFT866."
Alvarado is just praying they find him soon.
“He should have told me this happened and faced the consequences. If he had to go to jail, then deal with it, you know, deal with it. But my baby didn’t have to go through all that,” she said.
Candles, flowers and balloons were left near the spot where the 8-month-old girl was discovered.
"It just breaks my heart, makes me want to cry," said Bellflower resident Michelle Copeland. "It just shouldn’t happen. I feel so sorry for her mom."
"I have my own kids and it’s just, really I wanted to come out and pay my respects," said Lana Bedford.
Total strangers felt moved to come to show support for the infant and her grieving mother Tuesday night.
"It hurt when I was reading about it, it really did," Bedford said. "It shocked me because ... I’m almost in tears right now because that's only a small, little baby."
Investigators were still searching for Echeverria as of Tuesday night. He was last spotted in Southern California early Monday morning but he lived in Sacramento.
Call the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office if you have any tips about the case.
Stay with FOX40 for updates on this story.