LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The details of an 11-year-old Echo Park boy found dead this week were so gruesome, counseling was offered to those who were at the crime scene. An LAPD detective says it’s the worst case of child abuse he’s seen in his career.
Veronica Aguilar, 39, is accused of murdering her son, whose body was found in a closet at their home. She was arraigned Thursday in downtown Los Angeles and charged with one count each of murder and child abuse resulting in death.
Police say two possible reports of child abuse were filed in 2012. One report said he showed up at school with a black eye. A few weeks later a report said he came to school dirty and hungry.
So why was nobody able to stop years of neglect that led to Yonaton Daniel Aguilar’s death?
On Friday, CBSLA’s Randy Paige went downtown looking for answers.
The Department Of Children And Family Services concluded that both reports of child abuse were unfounded.
“Four years before, I think, there could be a totally different situation,” said Phillip Browning, director of the DCFS.
Browning said he can’t speak about his agency’s involvement in the boy’s case until a judge allows it. However, he did give an example of how DCFS social workers normally respond in cases like this. “In our protocol, we would have taken that child to the doctor, would have had a public health nurse look at it.”
Browning promised more details in the Aguilar case in the days to come.
Bail for Aguilar is recommended at $2 million. If convicted, she faces a possible maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.
Police responded Monday afternoon to the home on Santa Ynez Street after the boy’s stepfather reported his son had died.
Authorities located the boy in the fetal position wrapped in a blanket in the closet so small he couldn’t extend his legs. It appeared he had been dead for several hours, detectives said.
Detectives said the boy was emaciated, had little hair and open sores on his body, all signs of years of abuse. Results of an autopsy are pending.
Detectives are investigating whether he spent time in Mexico, where they believe his biological father may be.
The Los Angeles Times reports Aguilar has two other children, who have been placed in protective care.
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