A family torn apart by an apparent suicidal father came face-to-face with the man accused of throwing his son off the Arrigoni Bridge in court on Tuesday.
Tony Moreno, 22, faces a murder charge for the death of Aaden Moreno and made a brief court appearance at Middletown Superior Court on Tuesday morning.
While the incident on the Arrigoni Bridge happened two weeks ago, many in the city said it’s still fresh in their minds.
“Throughout this whole investigation, we've talked to Adrianne and told her that every night, we've all had sleepless nights,” Middletown Police Capt. Gary Wallace said. “We go home and kiss our kids a little extra, let them stay up a little longer, while always thinking about her.”
Court papers revealed bizarre messages sent by Tony Moreno to Aaden’s mother moments before he and the boy went off the bridge into the Connecticut River on July 5.
“Enjoy your new life without us,” one message read.
It was followed by a cryptic text message to his own mother, according to the papers.
“Mom, come down to the Portland bridge and get my phone and the stroller, so you can have pictures of the baby,” the text said.
Tony Moreno’s family rushed to the bridge. That’s when police said he jumped 120 feet into the water. He survived the apparent suicide attempt.
After a tireless search for Aaden, police said the child’s body was found a day later by a kayaker in East Haddam. His death was ruled a homicide.
“It's still the why that plagues us all,” Wallace said.
Police may never know the motive for this murder.
“What I have to believe is that Aaden did not die in vain,” Wallace said. “For whatever reason, it will present itself one day.”
The boy’s grief-stricken mother briefly spoke during a vigil that was held shortly after the discovery.
"I will always be your mommy and I will always love you,” said 19-year-old Adrianne Oyola, Aaden’s mother.
Court documents show that a restraining order was filed before the incident. However, it was denied by a judge. Legal experts told Eyewitness News that at the time, there was little reason to approve it based on the evidence.
A judge determined that Moreno was physically able to stand in front of a judge on Tuesday. Since his bedside arraignment, Moreno has been at a mental health facility, under constant supervision.
“I would imagine that he is going through an assessment, an evaluation," Wallace said. "And whatever those results are, I'm sure you'll hear about it in court at some point."
The court appearance focused on Moreno's next court date, nothing more.
The child’s mother was there to watch it all. She was wearing a dog tag with Aaden's photo attached. Oyola remained poised throughout the appearance.
Wallace has kept in touch with both families.
“They're strong families and they're really leaning on each other for support,” Wallace said.
Outside of court, Oyola didn't make herself available to the media and neither did members of Moreno's family, who walked past Eyewitness News cameras with nothing to say.
“We know that they're hurting and we hope they continue to get the support that they need,” Wallace said. “It's important, you can't be alone at a time like this.”
While the investigation is mostly over, police said both sides have cooperated and are looking for closure.
“It was tough to be here today, but we needed to be here for the family, for the community and for ourselves, really,” Wallace said.
Moreno's next court date will be on Sept. 15.
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