Victim’s voice: Mother suspicious of son’s drowning death

Four-year-old Matias Stricker Abreu allegedly drowned to death on Christmas Eve, and his mother, Isabel Stricker is left with a hole in her heart as she tries to piece together what happened on that Friday afternoon.

Matias and his father, Jacob Stricker, were on the BREC Frenchtown Conservation Area trails when the 4-year-old went missing.

Matias was rescued from the Amite River around 3:40 p.m., nearly an hour after he was reported missing by his father. Matias was rushed to a hospital but died shortly before midnight. 

Isabel said she thinks the problems she’s had with Jacob may reveal the answer to what exactly happened to her son on Christmas Eve.

Jacob and Isabel were married about five years before separating 17 months ago. The couple finalized their divorce a few months back. Isabel said she had to file a protective order against Jacob because he was abusive towards her.

“There was a lot of violence when we were together, which is why we separated,” Isabel said in an interview through a translator.

Isabel’s translator said Jacob was abusive to Matias as well.

“They were going to go to court on Jan. 5 for custody, because the kid would come home with bruises and with cracks,” she said. “She would text him. She’s got all the proof. She’s got everything she needs.”

The couple had joint custody of Matias and Jacob would have his son from Friday, December 23rd to Sunday, December 25th. Isabel said she warned Jacob of the dangerous cold temperatures in the area on Friday when he picked Matias up.

“Before I dropped him (Matias) off, I told him (Jacob) it’s gonna be real cold this weekend. Please do not take him out,” Isabel said. “He’s (Matias) from the Dominican Republic. That’s a hot place. And he has never been really close to the kid so I told him to ‘leave him at your mom’s house. Stay there. Please do not leave the house’.”

Isabel said her son didn’t like to walk much and was diagnosed with autism, which left him non-verbal. She said she thought it was strange that Jacob took their son to a park without any play equipment in frigid temperatures.

Isabel said she didn’t find out what had happened to Matias right away and when she did find out, it wasn’t from Jacob. Jacob reportedly called law enforcement to say his son was missing at 2:40 p.m.

The young boy was rescued from the river an hour later. However, Isabel said she didn’t know anything until 4:20 p.m., nearly two hours after her son was reported missing.

“He (Jacob) never informed her or nothing,” the translator said. “The hospital had to call her and ask her if she could come down to the hospital. She never imagined how bad the situation was until she got there and saw her kid in the bed.”

The translator described the moment that Isabel walked into the room to see her son in the hospital.

“When she entered the room, there were like 15 doctors trying to revive her son,” the translator said. “She passed out.”

“I felt like my heart left my body,” Isabel said.

Matias was transported via helicopter from Oschner on O’neal Lane to the Children’s Hospital. Before the young boy was transported to the intensive care unit, he passed away.

“What she said was really traumatizing. They called her and she thought it was a mild injury and when you get to the hospital, your kid is laying down on the bed with a lot of wires and tubes on him with doctors trying to revive him,” the translator said. “That’s a really traumatizing experience.”

Multiple sources have said Matias’ death is suspicious. At this time, no one is facing any charges. The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into Matias’ death. Their investigation is ongoing.

“She knows it was not an accident because it just is way too weird, too many things that changed in less than a week,” the translator said on Isabel’s behalf. “It’s just not normal. Right now we’re just waiting for an autopsy to get here. We’ve already talked to the social workers. We will wait for the autopsy to get here and we will go from there.”

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