What Happened To Arnold Contreras, The Father Of Gabriel Fernandez

Elif Ozden

Eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez suffered systematic torture and was eventually killed by his mother and her boyfriend. An important figure in this heartbreaking story is Arnold Contreras, Gabriel’s father. As many have wondered, where was he during this time of abuse, and how has life treated him in the aftermath?

Where Was Contreras At The Time of The Incident?


At the time when Gabriel was subjected to brutal abuse, Contreras was behind bars. It was in the confines of the Riverside County Jail that he was informed by a chaplain about the decision to take his son off life support.

However, this wasn’t Contreras’ only run-in with the law. He also found himself incarcerated in the Calipatria State Prison. His convictions spanned acquiring and retaining personal identification information, which in May 2018 landed him a sentence of two years and eight months.

A subsequent conviction on January 25, 2019, added another one-year and four-month sentence. His record also states convictions for evasion, controlled substance use, robbery, and assault.

Contreras On The Aftermath of The Tragedy


Contreras was engulfed by guilt and devastation after the demise of his son Gabriel. Prosecutors have shared that he consistently expressed deep sorrow over not being able to protect his child, often echoing sentiments like, ‘I’m sorry” and ‘Sorry for not being there.’

Contreras and Gabriel shared a close bond. Despite the hurdles of life, he remembered his son as a ‘normal kid’ with a love for childhood games and a radiant smile. His testimony reflected his persistent opposition to Gabriel living with Pearl, given their history which included alarming threats made by Pearl towards him.

The Torture Gabriel Fernandez Endured


From sustained physical assaults resulting in broken bones to the deeply dehumanizing act of forcing the young boy to eat cat feces, Gabriel’s daily life was marred by violence and neglect.

A horrific day in May 2013 saw Pearl Fernandez dial 9-1-1, reporting her son’s lack of responsiveness after he failed to clean up his toys. Responders were met with a grim scene of Gabriel, injured and lifeless on the floor.

Two days later, on May 24, 2013, the boy succumbed to his injuries, with the official cause being a combination of blunt force trauma, neglect, and malnutrition. Reports indicate that Aguirre’s prejudiced belief that Gabriel was gay served as a motive for this relentless abuse.


In the aftermath of Gabriel’s death, the legal system went into action. Isauro Aguirre faced the courts in 2018, found guilty of both murder and torture. The repercussions of his crimes led him to death row at San Quentin State Prison.

On the other hand, Pearl Fernandez opted for a guilty plea for first-degree murder, which resulted in a life imprisonment sentence.

Netflix’s docu-series, ‘The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez,‘ brought the traumatic events surrounding Gabriel’s life and death to a global audience.

Jon Hatami, the prosecutor, emerged as an important character in this unfolding narrative. He not only spoke on behalf of Contreras but also established a bond with him after the trials.

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