PALMDALE (CBSLA) – A 4-year-old Palmdale boy who died last week under suspicious circumstances had been ordered by a court back in May to be removed from his parents’ custody over concerns about abuse, but never was.
In mid-May, a Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner grants a request from a caseworker with the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to remove Noah Cuatro from his parents’ home, according to a report in the L.A. Times Thursday.
However, Noah was never removed from the home and placed in foster care, the Times reports.
On the afternoon of July 5, Cuatro’s parents called 911 to report that Noah was drowning in a pool at an apartment complex in the 1200 block of East Avenue S, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department reports.
He was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital. He died the following morning, on July 6.
Hospital staff, however, found signs of trauma on Noah’s body and determined there were issues with his parents’ explanation for his cause of death.
Noah’s three siblings have since been removed from the home and the sheriff’s department has launched an investigation.
DCFS had previously investigated several reports of abuse in Noah’s home. Noah’s maternal great-grandmother, Eva Hernandez, told CBS2 Wednesday that he was in and out of foster care his entire life.
In 2016, according to the Times, Noah was removed from the home and placed in foster care for two years. He was returned to his parents’ custody in November 2018.
Hernandez said she often cared for her great grandson.
“He begged me, ‘grandma, let me stay, don’t do this to me,’” Hernandez said. “Don’t send me back. It’s hard because I remember every word he used to tell me.”
Noah’s parents have been questioned in the case, but not yet charged. DCFS Director Bobby Cagle did not immediately respond to the Times request for comment.
Noah’s death follows the high-profile deaths in recent years of two other Antelope Valley boys which prompted a state audit of DCFS over its mismanagement of both cases.
In June of 2018, 10-year-old Anthony Avalos of Lancaster died following years of abuse. His mother and her boyfriend were charged with murder and torture. DCFS admitted that its agency had been aware of the abuse and received multiple calls over a period of several years.
In 2013, 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale died after years of torture and abuse at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend, who were both later convicted of murder in his death. DCFS had determined nothing was wrong despite numerous contacts with the family and a call from his first-grade teacher.
In 2017, two former DCFS social workers and supervisors were charged with felony child abuse and falsifying public records in connection with the Fernandez case.