A Las Vegas man accused of killing his girlfriend’s son allegedly hid the 4-year-old’s body inside a trash bag under a false cardboard bottom of a garage freezer for nearly three months, authorities say.
The grizzly revelation is just one of a dizzying array of new details released on Thursday about the murder of Mason Dominguez, a preschool student whose mother told police he had been missing since December. His death was only uncovered after Dominguez’s 7-year-old sister gave her elementary school teacher an ominous note from their mom, who said she was being kept against her will, ultimately leading to the discovery of the body by police.
On Tuesday, Brandon Toseland, 35, was charged with open murder and two counts of kidnapping in the case. He is currently being held at Clark County Detention Center after a Thursday court hearing during which his defense lawyer asked for a mental health evaluation. His lawyer has said he plans to plead not guilty.
Rather than a one-off act of violence, a spokesperson for Dominguez’s family told The Daily Beast, the murder occured after sustained physical and emotional abuse by Toseland.
“They are completely traumatized,” Stephen Stubbs, a lawyer who is speaking on behalf of the mother and who asked her name be withheld, told The Daily Beast. “They are safe now, but they endured months of abuse…. They are trying to heal and deal with this and help with the police in any way they can for some justice.”
The abuse allegation was detailed in Toseland’s arrest report, obtained by The Daily Beast, which notes that police were first made aware of the case after receiving a call from the Clark County School District on Tuesday. The report also offers new insight into the circumstances immediately prior to the 4-year-old’s death.
“The details of the call stated that a CCSD student had multiple notes from her mother…. advising they were being held against their will and were requesting police assistance,” the report states. “Furthermore, the call was updated there was a possible missing juvenile.”
About an hour later, police say, they began to conduct surveillance on the home and saw Toseland and Dominguez’s mother leave the residence and get into a white Nissan Sedan. Toseland was immediately detained and the woman, who was identified as the kids’ mother, was interviewed.
The report states that the mother told police that she had last seen her son on Dec. 11, when the boy “became ill.”
“She wanted to provide help to Mason, but her boyfriend of 11 months, Brandon Toseland, told her she could not,” the arrest report alleges. “He then took her son, Mason Dominguez… into the master bedroom and barricaded the door, preventing her from entering.”
The mother added that Toseland refused to let her see her son “for a considerable amount of time.” In a separate interview with police, the report states, Dominguez’s mother said that Toseland later told her “Mason was deceased” and that “it was an accident, saying when he found Mason in bed, he was covered in vomit and was not breathing.”
“Brandon attempted to provide CPR but failed to resuscitate Mason,” the report states. “He additionally advised Mason was deceased, and [his mother] would not be allowed to see his body because [Toseland] would lose his freedom.”
The arrest report says that “no attempt to call police or medical was ever made.”
Dominguez’s mother also told police that Toseland would bind her so she wouldn’t move, prevent her from entering the garage, take her cell phone, and even make her feel like “she was not free to leave” the house, the report states.
“Additionally, if they left the residence, he would handcuff her inside the vehicle, preventing her freedom of movement,” the report adds. “This claim was further substantiated with the handcuff being observed in plain view, in the vehicle.”
Authorities say that all this information prompted officers to arrest Toseland on two counts of kidnapping before they realized this was a murder investigation. When they finally obtained a search warrant, however, detectives noticed that a garage freezer “had multiple odor absorption bags, fans, and [an] air filtration unit around the freezer.”
“When the freezer was searched, the body of Mason was located inside a trash bag, hidden under a false cardboard bottom and under multiple items of food,” the report states.
During Toseland’s first court appearance in Las Vegas Justice Court on Wednesday, prosecutor Tim Fettig revealed that the child had “visible injuries.” The Clark County coroner’s office will release the child’s official cause of death after an autopsy has been completed.
On Thursday, Toseland’s public defender, Scott Coffee, told reporters that although his client plans to plead not guilty, they wished to secure a competency review before moving forward.
“That’s the first thing we will look into, to see if he’s able to go forward” with court proceedings, Coffee said, adding that he had not yet reviewed the evidence against his client. Coffee did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Stubbs told The Daily Beast that despite the traumatic experience, Dominguez’s family was safe and were working to plan a private ceremony for the 4-year-old, who was remembered in an online campaign as “happy, sweet, intelligent, [and] very out-going.”
“To know we won’t ever see Mason again hurts,” Ariel Lopez, who described herself as the child’s relative and organized the GoFundMe, wrote. The campaign, she added, was to raise money to buy the 4-year-old a burial lot next to his father, who passed away a year ago.