Authorities in California on Thursday were investigating the “suspicious” death of a 10-year-old boy at a home in northern Los Angeles County where police and social workers had previously responded to child abuse allegations.
Anthony Avalos was found unresponsive Wednesday at his Lancaster apartment and taken to a hospital where died early the next morning, a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department news release said. The boy reportedly suffered injuries in a fall, but the coroner’s office had yet to determine a cause of death.
“Anthony was the sweetest boy ever. Always full of life, always happy,” Maria Barron, the child’s aunt, told KCBS-TV.
After the child’s “suspicious” death, officials removed seven other children, ranging in age from 11 months to 12 years, from the home pending further investigation, police said. The children either lived at the home or were associated with the victim’s family.
Barron told KCBS-TV the boy’s skull was fractured in an apparent fall inside the apartment where he lived with his mother and her boyfriend. She said the boy’s mother, who reported the incident to police, called it an accident.
Barron told the station that she and two other family members reported suspected child abuse to authorities three years ago. While police investigated, she said they didn’t find enough evidence to take the children away.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that authorities had contact with the family “prior to this incident” but didn’t give further details.
A source familiar with the investigation told the paper that the alleged prior child abuse involved another child in the house, and not the 10-year-old.
While officials were continuing to investigate the death, no arrests had been made.
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