FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – A young Marine who was called back from Iraq to be with his ailing wife just before she died of childbirth complications was arrested on suspicion of murdering his newborn son.

Authorities did not disclose a motive for the slaying, but the Marine, 20-year-old Robert Quiroz, told a TV station in September that he felt overwhelmed as a single parent of two and struggled to accept his son.

“I didn’t know how to feel about him, the same day he was born, my wife died,” he told KMPH in Fresno. “The feelings inside of me, I kind of wanted to push him away, but he’s my son, my wife gave him to me.”

Quiroz was jailed on Monday. Investigators said his son died of beating injuries, but they would not elaborate.

After the infant’s death, authorities took Quiroz’s 18-month-old daughter into protective custody.

Quiroz spent just five days in Iraq in August before he was called home to be with his wife because she was having difficulties with her pregnancy. She died soon afterward from an aneurysm that was described as a complication of her pregnancy.

“This is an absolute tragedy,” Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. “When you consider the fact that we have a 3-month-old child that has been murdered, it takes a toll.”

Quiroz’s Web page on MySpace.com, posted under the screen name “I*MISS*HER,” appears to have been an outlet for his loss.

“On August 21, 2006, my whole world ended. For those of you who don’t know, my beautiful wife Candice died,” reads Quiroz’s site. “Just because you see me smile and you see me laugh doesn’t come close to the way I feel inside. I will never be as happy as I was until I’m with my wife again.”

Police had started a child abuse investigation in October after Quiroz’s son was hospitalized for a broken arm.

The infant was placed in protective custody, but the county Department of Children and Family Services released him to his father after a few days, police said.

Child welfare officials said they would investigate why the baby was returned to his father.

“This has absolutely devastated this department,” said Catherine Huerta, the department’s acting director. “Our job is to protect kids, and when something like this happens, it’s a failure.”

Dyer referred questions about Quiroz’s military service to the Marines Corps. A Marine spokeswoman in Washington said information about Quiroz, including his rank and unit, were not immediately available.



Associated Press Writer Olivia Munoz contributed to this story.

AP-ES-11-21-06 1807EST


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