The Corona man accused of torturing and killing his 8-year-old son appeared on Wednesday morning in a Riverside County courtroom where he pleaded not guilty to a count of murder, authorities said.
Prosecutors have charged 32-year-old Bryce McIntosh with first-degree murder in the slaying of Noah McIntosh, whose body has not yet been found.
The charge includes a special circumstance of torture, making the defendant potentially eligible for the death penalty, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
McIntosh entered the not guilty plea one day after his arraignment was postponed because he had not medically cleared to be transported to court.
The boy’s mother, 36-year-old Jillian Godfrey, also faces child cruelty charges in the case.
Despite not having yet found the boy’s body, McIntosh was charged with murder last Thursday after investigators said they developed enough evidence that leaves “no doubt that Noah is the victim of a homicide.”
Authorities believe the child died on March 3 or 4 in Riverside County.
Court documents revealed the father brought four gallons of muriatic acid, a bottle of drain opener, bolt cutters and two pairs of long-cuffed gloves from a Home Depot on March 4, the same day Godfrey initially told police she dropped her son off at his father’s place.
That was the last time she saw him, she said.
She later changed her story, however, telling investigators the date was actually two days earlier, March 2, according to a declaration in support of an arrest warrant from a Corona Police Department detective.
Godfrey allegedly told detectives she witnessed McIntosh taking the boy into the bathroom, then heard her son asking the father why he was hurting him, authorities said. When she was left, Noah was still in the bathroom.
The child was missing for nearly two weeks when Corona police — at the mother’s request — performed a welfare check on McIntosh’s home in the 4600 block of Temescal Valley Road on March 12. He allegedly did not respond to numerous attempts by police to contact him.
Police obtained a warrant the follow day and searched his home and vehicle. They seized his electronic devices and allegedly found the search terms “the normal heart rate for 8 year old,” “exactly how sodium hydroxide works” and “can you buy sulfuric acid” in his internet browser history, according to court documents.
Investigators then used extracted cellphone data to trace his location to the unincorporated area of Aguanga, where they found latex gloves, a plastic bag with residue consistent with blood, parts of a Ninja blender and empty bottles of drain cleaner, among other items, the document stated.
In an interview with police, McIntosh’s 10-year-old daughter described some of the physical abuse Noah endured, telling investigators he had been handcuffed in a bathtub filled with cold water, according to the declaration. She also said she knew the boy was missing “because her daddy told her.”
Godfrey allegedly documented the father’s abuse to Noah in notes on her cellphone, which was also searched as part of the investigation, court documents stated.
She is scheduled to be arraigned in court next Monday.
McIntosh, meanwhile, is due back in court on April 16. He is being held without bail.