LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Authorities say there was nothing substantial for them to act on that could have prevented the horrific death of an 11-year-old Echo Park boy.
Veronica Aguilar, 39, is accused of murdering her son, whose body was found in a closet at their home. She is charged with one count each of murder and child abuse resulting in death. Details of Yonatan Aguilar’s death 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.
Police said two reports of possible 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.
The Department Of Children And Family Services Director Phillip Browning said social workers spoke with a school counselor, a coach a doctor and the boy himself. Each time social workers concluded Aguilar was safe.
“We’re not clear where that child was for the last four years,” Browning said
Browning admitted the department needs more resources and said they need to hire about 1,000 new social workers to get case load down to where it should be.
FULL COVERAGE: Echo Park Child Abuse Death
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 last week 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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