Oceanside man charged for 7-year-old daughter’s murder

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VISTA, Calif. -- Murder and child cruelty charges were filed today against a man accused of killing his 7-year-old daughter at the family's Oceanside home.

Pedro Araujo, 27, is accused in Wednesday's slaying of Mariah Araujo, whose body was found in the home's bathroom.

Police have not commented on her cause of death, but the criminal complaint indicates that a knife was used in her killing. In addition to murder, he's also charged with child cruelty in regards to Mariah, as well her 6-year-old sister, Viviana, who was also in the home at the time.

Araujo was slated to appear in a Vista courtroom Friday afternoon, but did not appear because he was being held in "enhanced observation housing,'' though court staff did not elaborate. He's tentatively due to be arraigned Monday afternoon.

The child's grandmother made an emergency call shortly after 11 a.m. to report that she had just gone the family's house in the 3500 block of Las Vegas Drive to pick up Mariah and her sister but had been unable to find the older girl, police spokesman Tom Bussey said.

The woman reported that her son -- the girls' father -- had been evasive about the whereabouts of his elder daughter and had blood on him, Bussey said.

Officers went to the residence near Emerald Isle Golf Course and searched it, finding the victim's body in a bathroom. Detectives questioned Araujo and took him into custody on suspicion of murdering his daughter, Bussey said.

Members of the girl's family gathered at the Vista courthouse Friday and told reporters that Araujo was unstable and should not have been anywhere near his daughters.

Karina Avina, Mariah's aunt, said Araujo's mother had custody of the children as numerous CPS cases were open and ongoing against him, though the circumstances of those cases was unclear.

"We want him to pay the max. That's what we want,''  Avina said. "We don't want a few years. We don't want him to get out. He needs to pay his whole life. He needs to remember and wake up each morning that his baby's gone and he's not going to see her anymore.''

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family.

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