HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A toddler discovered inside a Hollywood apartment with his dead mother and baby brother was in the care of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services on Tuesday.
The unidentified toddler was found by authorities inside the second-floor apartment of the complex in the 1600 block of North Fuller Avenue after a friend of his adoptive mother dialed 911 to report that he heard a crying child.
Neighbors said they didn’t think anything of the child’s screams because they had been used to the noise.
“We didn’t think anything of it because we’re used to those screams and the tantrums so we thought it was the same thing,” said one man, who asked to only be identified as Dan. “But it wasn’t this time.”
Instead, neighbors learned a 43-year-old mother and her adopted 1-year-old son had died inside the unit.
Dan says his bedroom is next to the living room where Erika Tomassian lived. He says Tomassian’s two adopted sons were typically noisy. On Monday morning, he heard screaming again.
“I said that doesn’t sound normal, you know. I kind of ignored it. I didn’t think anything of it,” he said.
An autopsy will determine the cause of death, but police believe Tomassian died from natural causes because she was treated and released from the hospital recently for bronchitis.
Neighbors had the manager check on the apartment on Monday afternoon when they could hear one of the boys.
It’s believed the child was in there alone for several days after his mother died and his younger brother choked to death while being fed.
“The manager came and opened the door, but then the chain was preventing the door from opening so then the fire department came because they didn’t want to bash the door open because the little kid was right behind the door trying to get out. He was freaking out,” he said.
Dan says the fire department finally got in through the balcony window. Police say the surviving toddler is in stable condition after being treated for dehydration.
“I felt bad like maybe I could’ve done something as a better neighbor, you know? Maybe I could’ve been the one that was more receptive to her needs as a single mom,” Dan said.
On Tuesday, CBS2/KCAL9 contacted Tomassian’s brother who said he learned about his sister’s death while on vacation in Thailand.
He’s working to get back to Australia to figure out travel plans here as soon as possible.