PALMDALE – Sheriff Alex Villanueva Tuesday announced an investigation into the death of a 4-year-old Palmdale boy who was reported to have been injured in a near drowning, but who had trauma injuries that raised suspicion about how he died.
A call for service was made about 4 p.m. Friday, July 5, to a home where the boy, identified only as Noah, lived with his parents and three siblings, according to Villanueva, who announced the investigation at a news conference at sheriff’s headquarters along with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza.
The boy’s parents reported that the child nearly drowned in the pool at the family’s home in the 1200 block of E. Avenue S in Palmdale, Mendoza said.
The boy was taken first to Palmdale Regional Medical Center and then to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and found to have traumatic injuries to his body that were not consistent with what the parents said happened, Villanueva said. The boy was pronounced dead on Saturday morning [July 6].
The boy’s parents were questioned but not arrested, and his siblings were taken into protective custody, according to Mendoza, who said there were previous reports to the county Department of Children and Family Services regarding the boy. He did not reveal specifics, saying information was still being gathered.
“I see this as an open criminal investigation and I’m eager to see what results [from] the investigation by law enforcement and what appropriate criminal charges may follow,” Barger said at the press conference [View it below].
“I think it’s important for us to get out in front of this and seek answers and justice for Noah,” Barger added.
The fatality follows the deaths of two Antelope Valley boys — 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale in May 2013 and 10-year-old Anthony Avalos of Lancaster in June 2018 — in cases that called into question the effectiveness of DFCS personnel and policies.
Isauro Aguirre was sentenced to death in June 2018 and his girlfriend, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the death of Gabriel, who was routinely beaten, starved, forced to sleep in a closet and tortured before his death.
Anthony’s mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend Kareem Leiva are awaiting trial on charges that they tortured and murdered her son in the days leading up to his death.
UPDATE: The Los Angeles County coroner’s office identified the boy as Noah Cuatro. A gofundme page was established to assist the family. It can be found at: http://ow.ly/DU7730p63qh