A sex offender in slayings of his 5 infant children, Yolo County authorities say

A sex offender charges with killings of his five infants, about to be freed from prison. A California father has been taken into custody in connection with the decades-old killings of five of his infant children, in a case a sheriff said has haunted his agency for years.

A convicted sex offender with a 20-year criminal history, Paul Perez, 57, was charged in deaths of the children born between 1992 and 2001, and authorities announced on Monday, the same day he was supposed to be released from a state prison in Delano, on unrelated charges.

A fisherman discovered a deceased baby on March 29, 2007, in a waterway just east of Woodland. The baby boy was in a sealed container and weighted down with heavy objects.

Using DNA technology, the baby was identified in October 2019 as Nikko Lee Perez.

“We’re here because, as seen in other cases around the nation, the science and power of DNA has shown that monsters and killers cannot hide forever any longer,” Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig said at a news conference Monday.

Yolo County Sheriff Tom Lopez said the case reflects an “unspeakable evil,” though a motive has not been determined.

“I cannot think of a case more disturbing than this one,” he said. “There can be no victim more vulnerable and innocent than an infant and unfortunately this case involves five of them.”

After a homicide investigation launched in 2007, a fisherman found the badly decomposed remains of a 3-month-old boy, recently identified as Nikko Lee Perez.

The child was wrapped in a Winnie the Pooh blanket, then in a layer of plastic and placed inside a metal cooler which had been weighed down with metal objects before being submerged in an irrigation slough near Woodland, California, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

The infant died of blunt force trauma, an autopsy determined it. He had a fractured skull and before death had sustained rib and other fractures that had started to heal by the time he was killed.

The man who discovered Nikko’s remains told The Associated Press he had never forgotten what he saw and was relieved to learn DNA technology helped solve the long mystery.

“When I opened that box, I was 99 percent sure it was a human body but I wanted to hold on to the belief that maybe it wasn’t,” Brian Roller said.

“When I saw one of the officers (at the scene) start to cry, I knew right then that what I was thinking was true.”

The investigators determined Nikko had siblings: with the new information, one who is known to be dead and three others whose remains have not been found.

Perez was charged with five counts of premeditated murder with special circumstances of lying in wait, torture and multiple victims. He also faces charges of assault on a child under 8 and criminal enhancements for his prior convictions.

District Attorney Jeff Reisig said Perez is eligible for the death penalty but he has not yet decided whether to pursue it.

Perez is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday and authorities said it is unclear if he has an attorney.

“The investigation in this case uncovered a deeply disturbing and chilling case of infanticide,” Reisig said.