Florida police arrested a man last week for allegedly killing his pregnant mistress and her unborn child after she refused to have an abortion.
People reports Jose Soto-Escalera, 41, of Port St. Lucie, has been confirmed to be the father of the unborn baby carried by the late Tania Wise, 23. He faces two first-degree murder charges, according to police.
Wise was eight months pregnant when her body was discovered in a ditch last month, the Treasure Coast Palm reports. She was scheduled to give birth by cesarean section just a week later, according to the report.
Here’s more from the report:
An arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE states that a witness told police that Soto-Escalera had given Wise $500 for an abortion and was angry that Wise didn’t get one.
According to the affidavit, Soto-Escalera denied to police he was in a sexual relationship with Wise and said he was at another person’s home fixing a car battery on the night she was killed.
Soto-Escalera was arrested on Sept. 21. A statement from the sheriff’s office states that digital forensic evidence connected the suspect to the crime and that an eyewitness confirmed seeing his truck near the crime scene.
“We also know that he was in the area of her home the night that she disappeared,” St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said. “We also know that he was in the area where Tania’s body was found the next morning.”
He said DNA evidence confirmed that Escalera is the father of Wise’s dead unborn child. According to the report, the baby was a boy named Josiah Thomas.
Escalera’s wife reportedly knew nothing about the affair. They have four children, according to the report.
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Though it is not clear from reports, the second murder charge likely relates to the unborn baby boy. Florida and 37 other states recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn baby as homicide in certain circumstances.
A law since 2014, the Florida Unborn Victims of Violence Act states that a person who “causes the death of, or bodily injury to, an unborn child” while committing a crime also “commits a separate offense.” Unborn babies at any stage of development are protected under the law.
Violence against pregnant women and their unborn babies is disturbingly common. In the United States, one in six women is first abused during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control. As LifeNews previously reported, one study found that as many as 64 percent of post-abortive women say they felt pressure to have an abortion.
In August, LifeNews reported about a similar case involving a Utah man who allegedly killed his pregnant girlfriend after she refused to have an abortion.
In 2017, a Hawaii jury convicted a man of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend after prosecutors said he stabbed her to death for refusing to abort their unborn child.
That same year, a California jury also found a man guilty of first- and second-degree murder after he allegedly hired a hitman to kill his pregnant girlfriend and their unborn son after she refused to have an abortion.