Family, supporters cheer as father leaves custody one day after Bronx twins' hot car death

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Twin babies found dead in Bronx car; Father tells police he forgot they were there
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Police said twin babies died inside a car in the Bronx after their father told police he forgot they were there, went to work for the day, and found them hours later.

KINGSBRIDGE, Bronx (WABC) -- Family and supporters cheered as Juan Rodriguez left custody just one day after his one-year-old twins died inside a hot car in the Bronx.

Rodriguez told police he forgot Luna and Phoenix Rodriguez were in the backseat, and he went to work for the day and found them eight hours later at the intersection of Kingsbridge Terrace and Kingsbridge Road in the Kingsbridge neighborhood.

The 39-year-old father from New City, Rockland County, was taken into custody for questioning Friday and charged early Saturday morning.

Rodriguez told police he dropped one of his children, a three-year-old, at a home in Westchester, and then drove to work at the VA Medical Center in the Bronx around 8:00 a.m. He told police he forgot the children were in their rear-facing car seats when he parked, police said.

He said he went back into his car after his eight-hour shift and started to drive away, according to police. He drove for two blocks before discovering the children in the back seat "foaming at the mouth" and called 911.

Police said he pulled over and screamed for help.

Rodriguez was charged with two counts of manslaughter and two counts of criminally negligent homicide.

Rodriguez cried throughout his court appearance, but when his attorney mentioned the twins, he started sobbing and shaking. His bail was set at $50,000 cash and $100,000 bond.

"My client is heartbroken," said attorney Joey Jackson. "He certainly understands the gravity of what occurred. His family understands the gravity of what occurred. They are strong, they are resilient, and they will get through this very difficult and trying time."

Rodriguez is a licensed clinical social worker and also an Army Veteran who served in Iraq.

Mourners placed flowers, candles and stuffed animals close to where the car had been parked in the Bronx.