The father of Noah McIntosh, the 8-year-old boy who is presumed dead after disappearing last year, has been indicted by a grand jury on a murder charge, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
The charges against Bryce McIntosh include a count of willful child cruelty, as well as a special circumstance allegation of torture that would make him eligible for the death penalty, according to a DA’s news release.
DA Mike Hestrin has not decided yet whether to seek a death sentence in the case.
McIntosh, 34, of Corona had previously been charged with first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty in April 2019.
Prosecutors opted to present the case to a Riverside County grand jury after numerous delays that prevented it from moving to a preliminary hearing, the DA’s office explained. The grand jury returned the indictment, which means McIntosh can be held over for trial.
McIntosh is suspected of killing his son on March 3 or 4, 2019, according to investigators.
His body still has not been found. But within weeks of his disappearance, Corona Police Department Chief George Johnstone said that investigators had uncovered enough evidence to “leave no doubt that Noah is the victim of a homicide.”
The probe began on March 12, 2019, after Noah’s mother called police to request they go to McIntosh’s apartment to check on her son, according to court documents.
Jillian Godfrey — who later pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges in the case — told police her son hadn’t been seen in several days, the document states. He had not yet been reported missing.
Officers responded to the home, located in the 4600 block of Temescal Valley Road, but did not find Noah.
While investigating, authorities determined that he had been the victim of abuse, which included “being handcuffed and held in hot and cold water for hours at a time,” the DA’s news release stated.
With help from the FBI, police tracked McIntosh’s cellphone to an unincorporated area of Aguanga in early March 2019.
A search of the area yielded multiple pieces of evidence, including a paper with the words “Noah M” on it, latex gloves, empty bottles of drain cleaner, a trash can and a plastic bag with residue consistent with blood, according to prosecutors.
More evidence was seized in the Temescal Canyon area.
Authorities also served a search warrant at McIntosh’s apartment. They utilized a plumbing service and were told that the “trap” in the bathtub plumbing was cleaner than it should’ve been for the age of the building, the DA’s release stated.
According to court documents, investigators also seized the defendant’s electronic devices and allegedly found search terms including “the normal heart rate for 8 year old,” “exactly how sodium hydroxide works” and “can you buy sulfuric acid” in his internet browser history.
A civil lawsuit filed last July alleges that Noah had experienced years of “horrific abuse and neglect” at the hands of his father, and social workers failed to protect him, the Los Angeles Times reported.
More than a dozen reports had been made to the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services about Noah, according to records obtained by KTLA.
Among the disturbing allegations were that Noah was punished violently for “potty” issues, given laxatives that made him defecate in the bathtub — which he was then forced to clean up with a bag — and even sent to school once clad in a diaper and without pants.
The boy had bladder exstrophy and had undergone four major surgeries to treat the rare condition he had since birth.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Noah’s older sister, who is a minor.