The parents of a 10-year-old California boy starved him and locked him up before he was beaten to death, officials said, and child services are investigating whether him coming out as gay was a factor.
Anthony Avalos died last Thursday in Lancaster, near Los Angeles, after enduring multiple head injuries from long-term abuse, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services said.
As of Wednesday morning, no charges have been filed against his mother Heather Barron and her boyfriend Kareem Leiva. Barron had rushed Avalos to the hospital the day before his death, claiming he hit his head in a fall.
Weeks before his death, Avalos “said he liked boys,” child services deputy director Brandon Nichols told the Los Angeles Times. Nichols did not say who Avalos told this to.
There will be an investigation into whether he was abused because of his sexuality, DCFS director Bobby Cagle told KABC-TV in San Francisco.
“One of the things that we have heard is that there may have been a motivation on the part of the man in the household regarding to the sexuality of the child, and so we’re looking into that in a very deep way,” Cagle said.
The agency told The Associated Press that one of Avalos’ grandparents sexually abused him when he was just 4. However, they later closed the case after they determined that his mom was taking care of him in the aftermath of the sexual abuse.
CCFS received a dozen complaints of alleged neglect or abuse of the child starting back in 2013 and at least 16 calls since 2013 from school administrators and family members, according to the Los Angeles Times.
At some point over the past five years, Avalos was removed from his home for several months, officials said. After Avalos’ death, other children were removed from his home and put into CCFS’ care.