Southwest holds plane for family of Caden Rodgers, tot allegedly slain by Theodore Madrid

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Tragedy can bring out compassion in people -- and companies, too.

As evidence, note that Southwest Airlines held a plane for the grandfather of two-year-old Caden Rodgers, allegedly killed by Theodore Madrid last week.

The story comes to us courtesy of consumer advocate Christopher Elliott, whose website,, focuses on travel issues. In a post yesterday, he shared the story of a reader he identified as Nancy, who wrote:

Last night, my husband and I got the tragic news that our grandson in Denver had been murdered by our daughter's live-in boyfriend.

He is being taken off life support tonight at 9 o'clock and his parents have opted for organ donation, which will take place immediately. Over 25 people will receive his gift tonight and many lives will be saved.

Problem was, Nancy's husband had been in Los Angeles on business. While arranging the flight for him, she told ticketing agent about the reason for the change -- and according to her, the agent was holding back tears throughout the call.

Nancy's husband arrived at LAX two hours early, but ticketing and security lines were so long that he arrived at the gate late. However, the plane was still there, for reasons she explains in the following passage:

When he got there, the pilot of his plane and the ticketing agent both said, "Are you Mark? We held the plane for you and we're so sorry about the loss of your grandson."

The pilot held the plane that was supposed to take off at 11:50 until 12:02 when my husband got there.

As my husband walked down the Jetway with the pilot, he said, "I can't thank you enough for this."

The pilot responded with, "They can't go anywhere without me and I wasn't going anywhere without you. Now relax. We'll get you there. And again, I'm so sorry."

As Elliott points out, holding a plane for twelve minutes is an extraordinary act in this day and age. "Good work, Southwest!" he declares, and most of the over fifty commenters to his post echo this view.

In an update published earlier today, Nancy encourages readers to make a donation to Aurora's Ronald McDonald House in Caden's name. Elliott concludes, "I'm grateful to the readers of this site for their compassionate response to this case, and to Southwest Airlines and its principled pilot for holding the plane."

Below, find our original coverage of the Madrid case:

"Theodore Madrid to face more serious charge now that 2-year-old Caden Rodgers has died"

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Big pic below.
Earlier this week, Theodore Madrid, thirty, was booked on suspicion of felony child abuse after a toddler in his care was found in critical condition. Last night, the child, Caden Rodgers, died -- and the Aurora district attorney's office is already working on updating the charges against Madrid. Below, find the details courtesy of the Aurora Police Department, as well as a larger look at the suspect.

Aurora Police Department release, January 6:

Crimes Against Children Unit Investigates Boyfriend for Child Abuse

Aurora, Colo. -- Crimes Against Children detectives took Theodore I. Madrid, 30, of Aurora into custody early Wednesday morning after a young child in his care was found with life-threatening injuries.

During the early morning hours of January 5, 2011, shortly after 12:30 a.m. patrol officers responded to a 911 call at an apartment in the 100 block of Dayton Street. Officers arrived and found Theodore Madrid, his girlfriend, and a toddler inside the apartment. The child, who was injured, was in critical condition and was transported to a local hospital by fire/rescue personnel.

During the course of investigation, officers developed probable cause to arrest Theodore Madrid for investigation of felony child abuse. Madrid was arrested and transported to the Aurora Detention Center. Crimes Against Children (CAC) detectives responded to the scene to take charge of the investigation.

Madrid is currently in the Arapahoe County Jail. His bond has been set at $500,000.

The CAC Unit has released Madrid's arrest photo, which has been sent with this news release.

Police are not releasing the name of the child.

This investigation remains active and on-going.

Aurora Police Department release, January 7:

Update -- Crimes Against Children Unit Investigates Boyfriend for Child Abuse

Aurora, Colo. -- The toddler that was taken to the hospital early Wednesday morning succumbed to his injuries last night. Two year old, Caden Rodgers, was pronounced dead at approximately 9:20 p.m.

Theodore I. Madrid is still being held in Arapahoe County jail. Detectives are working with the District Attorney's Office to update the charges and the bond.

If you have any further questions please contact Sergeant Cassidee Carlson 303-739-6616.

Theodore Madrid.jpg
Theodore Madrid.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Travis Anderson guilty of letting abused child die while he surfed Internet about stolen tools."

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I applaud the pilot for not only holding the plane in this tragic situation but for also having enough class and respect for Caden's close family by not soliciting media attention for himself. Too bad those "grandparents" in Arizona couldn't display the same class. If they truly cared about Caden or those member of Cadens real family in Colorado who raised him and loved him for nearly 3 years, they wouldn't be doing all of these interviews about themselves


I think the person who wrote “pretty people hurt children too”, is correct. However, it's just not the fact that he is ugly. It is also apparent by the report that he has a major substance abuse issue and I am going to guess that this was no secret to the Mother. As a single Mother myself, I can tell you when dating, I was MORE than aware of the existence of men that are abusive to children. Not by experience but by seeing reports like this and reading the paper! I believe the Mother in this case, has paid the ultimate price for stupidity and ignorance however; Caden sure did not deserve this lesson. There needs to be some responsibility placed on the Mother; maybe child-endangerment. I am not suggesting jail for her but maybe counseling and a contract stating 2 years of parenting classes IF she ever has another child.


A Win for everyone involved. Nice Job, Southwest!


What a wonderful person that pilot is! Thank you SO much, from an un-related woman in another part of the country.

Vanessa Kane
Vanessa Kane

Southwest is the best airline! Kudso to that pilot for his compassion and caring for this family and their loss. You make me proud!


Thanks to the incredible pilot and Southwest for putting compassion and empathy first.


The way I figure it...the dude is lucky to be in jail. I swear if somebody ever hurt my son that person had better hope the police found him before I did. I have a 3 year old so I feel for the family and friends of little Caden. May God bless them and bring them the closure and healing that only he can provide.


I hope that he meets bubu in jail and he shows him what it is like to be abused


You three commenters are assholes. Pretty people abuse and kill kids too, and plenty of people who aren't as attractive are fantastic parents. Some women love men for who they pretend to be. It's not always so easy to tell the difference. It's really sad how you're focusing on how this man looks and blaming the mother rather than focusing on the tragedy of a child being murdered and a company that went above and beyond to make sure the child's grandfather could say good-bye. I'm holding my own toddler right now, and the thought of her being so severely hurt and someone not being able to say good-bye physically hurts me, but the thought of someone doing what Southwest and the pilot did gives a little beam of light. A wonderful thing was done, a very wonderful thing, to help this family. Focus on that.


Certainly feel for the boy, and the extended family, however appears the mother is a bad judge of character.......I mean common....take a look at this dude.....and she left her child with him, her work can't be that important, WOW!!??


What is it with women and psychos? They always seem to prefer the worst sort of man.

Nancy Marine Dickinson
Nancy Marine Dickinson

What a brave soul you are to post anonymously. Given you're retarded, I'll explain it to you just how journalism works...

As Caden's grandparents and as Ashley parents (though I am a step, I am the one she comes to when she needs a mom given hers was merely the uterus that carried her - children get in the way of her drugs, drinking and running with her biker gang) the press was working the police department for more info. They wanted to serve Ashley up on a platter to be torn apart by a hungry mob. Given her father and I actually love her while the rest of you used her beautiful heart for your own purpose, it was decided, with Ashley's permission, to do this to deflect the press off of her. It worked. We were given thanks from the police department for protecting her as well as we did. God knows we did more for her than any of you in Colorado ever thought of doing.

Now, let's talk about the "father" who "loved" Caden. People have been asking about him and I think it's high time we let them know what HE was about. Shall we share with people here how he walked out on Ashley while she was pregnant with Caden because his mother convinced him he wasn't ready to be a dad? Shall we talk about his marrying her after Caden was born and then leaving four months later for another girl? Shall we talk about how he never paid any child support to help Ashley take care of Caden? Shall we talk about his not being with Ashley at the hearing because he "couldn't handle it?" Ashley was there because she's more of an adult and a man than "Dad" will ever be. SHE could handle it because she's an adult while "Dad" was merely a sperm donor. "Dad" is a little boy who has to look "Man" up in the dictionary to know what it means and it STILL eludes him.

Hmmmm... Looks to me like all "Dad" loved was himself. "Dad" is pretty responsible for a great deal of this due to his walking in and out of their lives like the door to Ashley's apartment was a turnstile to the subway. None of this would have happened if he hadn't abandoned his family for the next available piece of tail.


wow really, no way can you tell me if you had know previous knowledge of this man and his picture was shown to you with info about him and his past (ex where he was born, family members, stories from him past) that you would think right away he was a child killer. Come come back to reality.

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